Fashion Designer Michael Costello Wants to Empower Women


Michael Costello dressed Beyoncé in a handsewn white lace and nude mesh dress for the Grammy Awards in 2014. This was four years after the fashion designer competed in the eighth season of Project Runway. He came in fourth and also appeared in the first season of Project Runway All Stars—but he claims the Beyoncé dress was his turning point. Almost a decade later, Costello’s celebrity clientele includes Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Kate Hudson, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey. His brand is available at Saks Fifth Avenue, and he recently launched a new summer collection with online fashion retailer REVOLVE.

One thing I try to do every day is…

stay connected with my team and my customers. I make sure to check in on my team and see how they are doing. I also respond to as many messages from my customers as I can, because nothing brings me more happiness than seeing real-life connection and the response to my pieces.

My style is

unapologetic, feminine and bold. My designs are all about celebrating women from all walks of life and making them feel confident and beautiful.

I feel most alive when…

I see a woman on the street wearing one of my designs. It’s the ultimate validation for me, knowing that I’ve made something that makes someone else feel good about themselves. It’s a feeling that never gets old. This is why I do what I do.

A professional experience that changed my life was…

when I shot with supermodel Esther Cañadas. I had been a fan of hers since I was a kid, and she had inspired so many of my designs when I was just starting out as a designer.

My favorite quote is…

“Treat others with kindness.” It’s a simple yet powerful reminder to always strive to be a good person. It literally costs nothing to do something nice to put a smile on someone’s face.

To avoid distractions, I…

usually put on some music and put my phone on silent. Without the constant notifications from texts, calls and emails, I’m much more productive and creative.

I handle negativity by…

trying to find humor in the situation. Life is too short to take everything so seriously. Sometimes, all you can do is laugh.

The item of clothing I can’t live without is…

a black, well-fitting blazer. It’s the perfect piece to dress up or down, and it always makes me feel confident and put together.

One thing that is difficult for me but I enjoy is…

taking care of myself by taking time off and being present. This sounds so cliché, but with a jam-packed schedule that is very fluid and constantly changing, it’s so hard to have a day off.

I never leave home without…

my phone. My whole life is in it. I wouldn’t know how to pay, function or live without it.

When I need a creative spark, I…

travel. I find so much inspiration from exotic locations all over the world.

The most surprising thing about me is…

I am amazing in the kitchen. Just like creating stylish pieces, I love putting ingredients together to make my favorite dishes for my loved ones.

I want people to know me for…

being a designer who celebrates diversity and empowers women. I want my brand to be for women of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds to wear to feel beautiful and confident.

In 10 years, I hope to…

still be designing and making pieces that make women feel amazing.

I define success as…

creating something that resonates with people and makes them feel good. 

This article originally appeared in the Sept/Oct 2023 issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photos courtesy of Phyllis Lane/Courtesy of Michael Costello.

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