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September 09, 1989 - Image 119

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-09-09

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Continued from Page 90

designer Christian Lacroix recently em-
braced him during the Paris haute
couture show for convincingly ex-
ecuting Lacroix' collection at a price, he
notes. "There are some who give me
guff, but most consider it the highest
form of flattery."
The veteran knockoff artist always
knew he'd rub elbows at the top
echelon of fashion, ever since his
boyhood in Texas. "Being from Italian
heritage and growing up in Texas, I
spent a great deal of time going to wed-
dings and funerals," he jokes, "and that
meant it was always time for special oc-
casion dressing. So I became very
aware of fashion and style at an early
Calling himself an "indoor child,"
Costa began his creative streak by cut-
ting out paper-doll dresses of Betty
Grable and Hedy Lamarr. Soon, he got
bored and challenged himself to make
his own sketches in crayons. "That was
probably my first commercial endeavor,"
he recalls. "I remember being in gram-
mar school and selling them for 2 cents
apiece to the girls in my class."
By age 12, Costa was given his first
sewing machine, complete with a learn-
to-sew course. Two years later he
launched his first dress business in his
garage. "I'd go to the fabric store with
the sisters of my schoolmates and we
would pick out 100 yards of tulle and
trim," he remembers. "I'd bring it to the
local dressmakers who would make a
pattern from my sketches. Eventually,
they'd hate to see me coming because
my sketches were getting more and
more complicated."
At first, Costa's designs were in-
fluenced by the Hollywood starlets of
the 1940s. "On one of our properties,
my family had a rental apartment house,
and on the property was an interstate
theater. Instead of collecting rent, we
would get free tickets to the movies
every week," he remembers fondly. "I
always got to see what Joan Crawford
and Lana Turner were wearing and that
permeated into my mind."
By the time he left Texas to attend
Pratt Institute in New York City, where
he obtained a fine arts degree, his en-
trepreneurial skills were in place and he
was selling wedding and prom dresses
for $12 to $15 each.
But Costa was never one to set his
sights small. After college, he joined
fellow classmates Yves Saint Laurent
and Karl Lagerfeld at France's famous

nd Winter Collection 1989

323 S. Main St. • Ann Arbor, MI 48104 • 313-665-7788

FALL '89


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