michael costello 2022

Mystical Michael Costello

The designer’s Midnight Sahara collection takes Fashion Week El Paseo on an inspired trip.

Amelia Rodriguez Current Digital, Fashion & Style, Fashion Week El Paseo

michael costello 2022

Michael Costello is greeted with a standing ovation after showing his Midnight Sahara Collection March 20 at Fashion Week El Paseo in Palm Desert.

The Coachella Valley has always been a touchstone for homegrown designer Michael Costello, who opened his first store in Palm Springs when he was only 15 years old. A couple decades later, however, his show at Fashion Week El Paseo 2022 transported the audience to an enchanting new desert landscape: the Sahara.

The Midnight Sahara collection owes its origins to Costello’s pre-COVID trip to Cairo, Egypt. “We saw the beautiful pyramids, we rode camels in the Sahara Desert,” Costello says. “I loved the colors of the sky and of the pyramids.”


Costello’s gowns and jumpsuits in rich nudes nod to those ancient wonders. Next, a sea of all-black looks put the “midnight” in the collection’s name. No conflating black with basic. Costello skipped LBDs in favor of standout silhouettes and unexpected details. Enormous ruffles fluttered at the bodice of one sheer gown like the wings of a bird. Other models donned close-fitting bodysuits topped with ultrawide-brimmed hats.

The Egypt-inspired color story continued with lush greens and shimmering metallics, touches of gray, navy, and sunset pinks. A model with rose-colored hair swanned down the runway in a billowing, full-sleeved blush frock amid the audience’s oohs and ahhs.


Among the offerings in each hue were sumptuous, curve-skimming glitter fabrics that shined like a curtain of stars. “When you see the glistening sparkles, it’s reminiscent of what the pyramids look like at 6 p.m., what the Nile looks like at 10 o’clock on a magical boat ride,” Costello explains.

The collection embraces both sensuality and strength. Sculptural shoulders and sparkly epaulettes meet high slits and plunging necklines. The eye for contrast and symmetry that characterizes Costello’s designs also extends to his runway styling. On one model, elbow-length black velvet gloves added a bolt of elegance and edge to a whimsical pink tulle gown embellished in feathers and sequins.

Polished hair and classic makeup kept the spotlight on Costello’s ethereal designs. Most models wore their strands in a tight, low bun. Makeup artist Scott Barnes painted each face with nude lipstick and depth-creating eyeshadow. “It’s a modern take on the smoky eye,” Barnes explains. “A little whipped out, as opposed to being so round.”


And though the collection’s roots lie in a far-flung locale, one element of the show hit particularly close to home for Costello. “After 15 years of not being able to see my daughter [Coco], I recently connected with her,” Costello shares. “I found out that she, too, has a love and appreciation for fashion, and she’s always wanted to be a fashion designer.”

Costello surprised 17-year-old Coco with her runway debut: Two of her designs joined Costello’s own in the show. Afterward, Costello stepped out amid cheers and applause for a lap of the runway, joined hand-in-hand with his daughter and his 18-year-old son Giovanni. Coco’s grin matched those of the delighted attendees. We had all just gone together on one grand adventure.

• READ NEXT: Trina Turk Collection Captures Mood of Fashion Week El Paseo Opener.