michael-costello-fashion-week-2019

Michael Costello, Friends Bring Fun, Bossy, and Beautiful

Their inspired new collections brought Fashion Week El Paseo to a fever pitch.

Maggie Downs Current Digital, Fashion & Style, Fashion Week El Paseo, Watch & Listen - Fashion Week

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A standing ovation greets desert native Michael Costello on March 19 at Fashion Week El Paseo.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GARY BINDMAN

Yes, it’s interesting to see what fashion designers will do within the limitations of a Project Runway challenge. But what’s even more interesting is to watch how those designers grow beyond the show — when their distinct perspectives truly take shape, when their creativity is given time to breathe, and their work expands beyond the constraints of the TV screen.

That’s why Michael Costello and His Project Runway Friends is the most reliably entertaining and fascinating show during Fashion Week El Paseo.

Costello, of course, is the hometown rock star of fashion. He honed his design skills at his own store in Palm Springs before he appeared on both Project Runway and Project Runway All Stars. He’s now the red carpet go-to for celebs like Toni Braxton, Beyoncé, and Jennifer Lopez, returning each year to Fashion Week El Paseo with a hand-selected posse of talented designer pals.

For our complete coverage of Fashion Week El Paseo, click HERE.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY GARY BINDMAN

Viktor Luna opened the show with a demolition derby-inspired collection.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY ARIANA BINDMAN

Viktor Luna collection.

Tuesday night’s show opened abruptly with a demolition derby-inspired collection from Viktor Luna. These racing jumpsuits and neutral trenches could have been drab if not for Luna’s sensuous touch — buckles where you’d least expect them, sparkly outerwear, glints of gold, and hard lines softened by billowy nylon, like blooming flowers growing from the models

Next Seth Aaron’s collection, “Sirens of the Sea,” plunged the audience underwater, showcasing dresses that moved like liquid in a color palette pulled from the deep: navy, silver, and black. In Greek mythology, the Sirens were beautiful but dangerous creatures who lured sailors to their deaths. Though nobody was shipwrecked during this show, at least one man gave a rowdy standing ovation and might have tossed himself at the stage if not for the nearby security guards.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY GARY BINDMAN

Seth Aaron collection.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY YASIN CHAUDHRY

Set to a remix of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax, Anthony Ryan’s collection was like springtime in Portland, starting with slouchy separates in pale pastels, growing richer and more vibrant with each look. The overall aesthetic reminded me of a Mary Oliver poem — deceptively simple but clever and undeniably beautiful

The crowd hooted and hollered for Mondo Guerra, who dubbed his colorful collection “yee-hawt,” with male and female models in a gonzo mishmash that was very Glen Campbell-meets-Hunter S. Thompson. Think: Bold cow print, circus tent stripes, and lighthearted textiles fashioned from Muppet fur.

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Anthony Ryan collection.

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY GARY BINDMAN

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PHOTOGRAPH BY ARIANA BINDMAN

Mondo Guerra collection.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY YASIN CHAUDHRY

Jesse Castell, who is not a Project Runway alum but sells his designs as part of ShopCostello.com, gave the audience a sartorial palate cleanser with airy, petal-colored dresses, satiny suits, and transparent men’s leisurewear.

Finally, when it was time for Michael Costello’s show, a brief black-and-white film set the tone for his cinematic new collection, “Harper.”

“I wanted to tell a story through the clothes,” Costello said on the film, introducing the concept. “This woman is definitely not afraid of anything … Everybody wants to be Harper.”

PHOTOGRAPH BY ARIANA BINDMAN

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PHOTOGRAPH BY GARY BINDMAN

Jesse Castell with his closing outfit.

So who is Harper? Harper is a boss bitch, possibly a criminal mastermind, definitely the woman to call for a martini or your next caper. She wears clothes that combine masculine and feminine elements, like structured trench coats with exaggerated shoulders and draped skirts slit up to here.

Her look is Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? chic — but the mystery here is that you don’t know whether Harper is the inspector or the femme fatale. It’s possible she’s both.

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Michael Costello’s Harper collection.

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY ARIANA BINDMAN

The only thing that’s certain is that Harper knows how to make one hell of an entrance.

Today’s events kick off with a trunk show featuring Michael Costello and his Project Runway friends. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is open to the public.

Tonight’s fashion show, Hollywood Party: Nobody Sleeps Tonight, features film costumes designed by the late Oscar winner Helen Rose for some of the biggest names of the silver screen.

The cocktail reception begins at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m.

VIDEO: Watch Michael Costello and His Project Runway Friends from start to finish here. For livestreams of every runway show, go to palmspringslife.com/livestream. Visit fashionweekelpaseo.com for tickets and more information.