When Jeffrey Costello was growing up in Bristol, Pennsylvania, he learned the finer points of pattern making and couture techniques from his grandmother, who had worked for designer Norman Norell in the 1960s. New York native Robert Tagliapietra, meanwhile, learned similar dressmaking skills from his grandmother, who also worked for Norman Norell in the 1960s.
Is it any wonder, then, that Costello and Tagliapietra both became clothing designers and, after meeting in Manhattan in 1994, joined forces to launch their own painstakingly tailored womenswear line eleven years later?
Their uber-feminine collection of sensuously draped jersey dresses, slinky satin skirts and curve-caressing suits have won the duo rave reviews since their line debuted in 2005. The 2006 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists have already had their work exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute, and they were included in the 2007 “New York Fashion Now” exhibit at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
The Fashion Informer caught up with the talented, sweet-natured Red Hook residents earlier this month - just after receiving word that they would be among the inaugural September Fashion Week shows at New York’s new venue, Focus (an old printing house on 11th Avenue) - to get the lowdown on their favorite reads, their manscaping secrets and their signature Lumberjack look.
So, Robert and Jeffrey...
What did you do last weekend, and what are your plans for this weekend?
ROBERT: Last weekend we worked, had dinner and played records with friends. Next weekend, we’re celebrating my younger sister Lindsay's graduation in Massachusetts, then driving her back to the city where she will start her internship at Starworks.
What's your favorite book or movie of all time?
ROBERT: Favorite books would be anything by Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers and Anne Sexton, I love a short story especially when traveling and it is so easy to get lost in these works. Favorite movie would have to be Time Bandits. I think I watched this movie about a billion times growing up, and I still put it on once in a while; this is every boy’s dream - at least it was mine!
JEFFREY: I go on author kicks and right now it is Kurt Vonnegut. Favorite movie probably is Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a much more glamorous and tasteful version of how I grew up, ha!
Tell me about your best friend.
ROBERT and JEFFREY: We have several great friends who are very special to us and with whom we try to talk to as regularly as is possible and always make time for when they are in town. Thankfully they understand our workload and do not take our absence as anything more than what it is.
What's your dream occupation (other than what you are doing)?
ROBERT: I would love to be making music, producing, DJing, etc.
JEFFREY: Running a dog rescue somewhere in New England.
How old were you when you first wore suspenders and a plaid shirt?
ROBERT: I was big on suspenders in middle school during that Bugle Boy craze; it was the eighties. I have worn them on and off for years but as my belly has “grown," they have become more practical and less of a fashion statement! Plaids and jeans I have worn forever.
JEFFREY: When I was five years old I remember my mother sent me to grade school in a navy blue shorts and jacket suit that had suspenders and I have worn them on a fairly regular basis since then.
You both have beards but they always look neat and tidy. Any manscaping tips for our readers?
ROBERT and JEFFREY: We never leave home without a beard comb. And it helps to have a friend along to make sure there is nothing in your beard while out in public, ha!
What newspapers and magazines do you read on a regular basis?
ROBERT and JEFFREY: I-D, Vogue, W, New York Times.
What is your favorite time of day?
ROBERT and JEFFREY: Late at night (way early morning) the city sounds so empty and eerily quiet; we love to work at this time because there are no distractions.
When you were 9, what did you want to be when you grew up?
ROBERT: Oddly enough, a lawyer.
JEFFREY: Anything that would take me out of my home town and into New York.
What's your favorite summer time activity?
ROBERT and JEFFREY: We love 5AM walks on a New England beach.
How would you like to be remembered?
ROBERT and JEFFREY: Jolly and portly.
What is your favorite period in history?
ROBERT: We both love the seventies; there was such an amazing raw creative energy and new things really felt new - music, fashion, attitudes. People were really interested in expression for the sake of expression.
Beverage of choice?
ROBERT and JEFFREY: Coffee with tons of cream and sugar and/or Gatorade.
What never fails to make you cry?
ROBERT: The last ten minutes of Dot and the Kangaroo (a cartoon film from childhood).
JEFFREY: The Elephant Man always leaves me dewy-eyed from the minute it starts.
When are you happiest?
ROBERT and JEFFREY: Listening to music or watching movies at home with our dog/son, Sam.
Photo courtesy Nick Heavican
Stay tuned next week for Random Questions For...Rag & Bone.