PROJECT RUN­WAY’S Michael Costello

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“A wards sea­son is the most dif­fi­cult sea­son for any de­signer. You get so many op­por­tu­ni­ties, but you’re never sure if they are go­ing to wear your dress or if you’re just an option un­til they show up on the red car­pet,” says Los An­ge­les­based fash­ion de­signer Michael Costello. Re­quir­ing no in­tro­duc­tion to fans of Project Run­way, the Sea­son 8 con­tes­tant, who re­turned for Project Run­way: All Stars, never dis­ap­points when it comes to dress­ing A-list celebri­ties in his ul­tra-glam­orous gowns for vir­tu­ally ev­ery ma­jor awards show. From the red car­pet to the small screen to the stage, his cred­its also in­clude cre­at­ing cos­tumes for the tele­vi­sion show Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story: Ho­tel— such as the dra­matic, floor-length, bil­lowy-sleeved fuch­sia gown worn by Lady Gaga’s Count­ess char­ac­ter—as well as Jen­nifer Lopez’s new Las Ve­gas gig All I Have. On the run­way, Costello has shown at both New York City’s Mercedes-Benz Fash­ion Week and Los An­ge­les (L.A.) Fash­ion Week. Costello also re­cently re­vealed on In­sta­gram that his first flagship bou­tique will open in Hol­ly­wood late sum­mer. It seems the (Hol­ly­wood) Hills are alive with the sound (er, de­signs) of Costello.

When I chat with Costello over the phone, the 33-year-old self-de­scribed “T-shirt and jeans guy” is speak­ing from his down­town L.A. stu­dio. “Some­times I’ll stay here for 18 hours, go home, sleep for two hours and come back,” says Costello of his awards sea­son sched­ule. “There’s tulle and beads fly­ing ev­ery­where, man­nequin parts here and there, and crys­tals all over. Awards sea­son is crazy for us, but we love it—that’s what we live for.”

Costello’s cre­ations have been spot­ted on Jen­nifer Lopez, Eva Longoria, Nicki Mi­naj, Katy Perry, Ari­ana Grande, Khloé Kardashian, Kylie Jen­ner, Whit­ney Port and Bey­oncé (flash­back to Queen Bey’s ma­jor fash­ion mo­ment in Costello’s sheer-and-flo­ral lace white gown at the 2014 Gram­mys), to name a few. Gwen Ste­fani donned the Mrs. Robinson mini dress in a scar­let red taffeta for Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy gala this past Fe­bru­ary (Costello cred­its boyfriend Jesse Castell for sug­gest­ing the gar­ment to Ste­fani’s stylists), while Meghan Trainor sparkled on­stage in a black cus­tom-made gown to ac­cept her Grammy award for Best New Artist. Per­haps it’s not so sur­pris­ing, then, to learn that at 17 years old Costello in­terned with leg­endary de­signer Bob Mackie— known for dress­ing the who’s who of en­ter­tain­ers—and is now fol­low­ing in his fash­ion­able foot­steps.

Asked what he con­sid­ers when de­sign­ing for the red car­pet, Costello doesn’t hes­i­tate: “Sex,” he says, laugh­ing. “As funny as it may seem, I feel like I live in a bit of a fan­ta­sy­land and I al­ways imag­ine, what hap­pens af­ter the red car­pet event? Is she go­ing to din­ner? Is she go­ing home to her boyfriend? How eas­ily does this dress need to come off?” Bot­tom line, Costello makes sure the red (hot) car­pet is laden with the right amount of sex ap­peal and el­e­gance. “Even though I love to do trapeze, caf­tan gowns with tons of Grecian god­dess fab­ric, I al­ways give the woman a waist be­cause it’s one of the most pow­er­ful fo­cal points on

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