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Calvin Klein

It’s hard to imagine a young Francisco Costa growing up in the small Brazilian town where he was born (even to a family already rooted in fashion) and having even an inkling of the career he has now – a career which, in some ways, is only just starting. In the early ’90s, the diminutive and cherubic immigrant arrived in New York as bright-eyed in the big city as any who had come before. He set about learning English and enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where he won the Idea Como/Young Designers of America award. After graduation, he was recruited to design dresses and knits for Bill Blass. But fate soon swept Costa towards his first big break when Oscar de la Renta asked him to oversee the signature and Pink Label collections of his own high-society house, plus Pierre Balmain haute couture and ready-to-wear.

In 1998, at Tom Ford’s bidding, Costa decamped for the red-hot Gucci studio where he served as senior designer of eveningwear, a position in which he was charged with creating the custom designs for both high-rolling clients and high-profile celebrities. This is where Costa cut his teeth, acquiring the skills required to direct a major label, as he would soon do, returning to New York in 2002 to work for Calvin Klein. Here he assumed the role of creative director of the women’s collections, where he remains today Costa’s first marquee Calvin Klein collection was shown in the autumn of 2003, following the departure of the namesake designer (and, as the man who invented designer denim and who, in 1968, founded one of New York’s mega-brands, Klein was hardly the easiest act to follow). Costa’s debut drew rave reviews across the board for its seamless integration of the label’s signature minimalism with a deft vision of how fashion looks now.

When Calvin Klein stepped down in 2003, Italo Zucchelli assumed the role of design director of the brand’s menswear collections, following four seasons working directly with Klein. The spring/summer 2004 collection, shown in 2003, was Zucchelli’s first. Zucchelli is a graduate of the Polimoda School of Fashion Design in Florence (1988), although he also previously attended courses for two years at the Architecture University, also in Florence. Prior to being recruited by Calvin Klein, he spent two years as menswear designer for Jil Sander; then a spell as designer at Romeo Gigli. Born 6 April 1965, he grew up near the Italian coastal town of La Spezia. Zuehelli recalls that his first glimpse into the world of Calvin Klein was provided in 1982, with a men’s underwear advertisement that starred Olympic pole-vault athlete Tom Hintnaus. Zucchelli’s designs encapsulate the spirit of Calvin Klein’s sexy, American philosophy; an aesthetic inspired by the human form and the idea of designing clothes that relate directly to the body in a sophisticated and effortless manner. The simplicity and purity of the brand’s design roots is a discipline in itself, one which Zucchelli deploys with a certain European panache, and inherent sense of sophisticated cool that has not only met with critical acclaim, but is an honest continuation of the Calvin Klein brand philosophy. Zucchelli lives and works in New York City.

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