Couture Made Easy



Michael Costello showcased his recent designs in a show at Parker Palm Springs.

CREDIT: Gerry Maceda

A woman, covered from turban to sweatpants, walked into Michael Costello’s boutique on Tahquitz Canyon Way. She told the designer how happy she was to see a little glamour on the storefronts in Palm Springs. After recalling the town’s posh fashion venues of yesteryear, she took off her huge dark glasses. “I’m Faye.”

She was Faye Dunaway — the movie star who’d launched a look in Bonnie and Clyde and who portrayed Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest. “Look around,” Costello said. “No wire hangers.” He later dressed Dunaway in a knockout red gown for a Council of Fashion Designers of America ceremony.

“I think of myself as an evening-wear designer,” says Costello, who is fitting a pink number for Mariah Carey. “She loves pink.” It seems the singer wants it strapless and backless, something of a construction challenge considering her voluptuous figure.

Only 26, this couturier was born sketching, according to his mother. At 4, he infuriated his sisters by taking their clothes apart to see how they were made and began sewing a few years later.

Raised in Sherman Oaks, he frequently visited Palm Springs, where his family owned properties. One day on Palm Canyon Drive when he was 15, his father, George Costello, said (here Michael imitates his father’s Sopranos-like cadence), “Looka dat place up there. Let’s open a dress shop.” His father remains his financial angel.

His parents “love it when I bring celebrities around,” he says, “like ‘Oh, dat red bathin’ suit lady,’” referring to Pamela Anderson. His mother suggested he ask the Baywatch queen to accompany him to church. He does escort Traci Bingham (also a Baywatch alum) to fashion events and dresses (detractors might say undresses) her in revealing outfits.

But it’s clear his passion emanates from Hollywood’s golden era. His favorite designers reflect old-guard splendor: Balenciaga, Oscar de la Renta, and Carolina Herrera. “I love sparkly fabrics,” he says. And “every gown should have a train.”

He hopes to follow in the footsteps of William Travilla, known as Marilyn Monroe’s favorite costumer (i.e., The Seven Year Itch). Costello senses a kinship to Travilla. “So many similarities: [an aptitude for] sketching, draping, pleating. Self-taught, the Greek [descent] thing.” 

When Costello’s mother inspected the interior of a Travilla frock, she spouted in Greek the equivalent of “Shut your mouth. Amazing. Just like you!”

Unapologetic, Costello aspires not to the perfect-inside James Galanos technique; simple, unfinished seams serve him well. As for staying power, he affirms that the garments hold together.

Comments to this website are moderated by staff. While all comments are welcome, we encourage all to be polite and please do not use this system for advertising or business promotions. Any complaint towards a business or service should be directed directly to that business and not posted here. If anyone has a complaint that a comment is defamatory, please contact me at tmay@palmspringslife.com and I will take appropriate action promptly. Thank You

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Palm Springs Life
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Heavenly Creatures

Whimsical florals and feminine flair find a romantic fashion revival this spring.

(Not) Just Dandy

Patrick McDonald creates his own style, with a nod to mod. hint: it’s exaggerated.

Fifty Shades Of Grey

The juicy trilogy and movie coming out in February inspire us to dress (or undress) the part. Here’s a list of stores that carry items to woo your valentine.

Mod About Style

Current ensembles pay homage to midcentury design with clean cuts and bold, vibrant prints.

The Revolution Heads Uptown

With the Palm Springs renaissance in full swing, it’s no surprise that the Uptown Design District has blossomed into a thriving community of shops, restaurants, and bars.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

Fashionista Friends

Fashionista Friends

Experience the glitz and glamour of Fashion Week El Paseo 2015.
2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Food + Wine Festival Grand Experience

Food + Wine Festival Grand Experience

Enter for a Chance to Win a Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert 2015 Grand Experience
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.