Costello Tagliapietra are the dream-poppers of New York Fashion Week; like My Bloody Valentine, they are an entity everyone loves and wonders about in equal measure. For Fall 2012, they kept that mystery alive by presenting a series of deceptively cheery-looking dresses that, upon closer inspection, revealed some unexpectedly oneiric details.
The musically-inclined design duo have likened their hazy aesthetic to “shoegaze dressing” in the past, and it remains a fitting comparison. On the Costello Tagliapietra catwalk, colors bleed and patterns drift into abstraction, yet the fluid, form-caressing silhouettes always flatter.
Following Thursday’s show, Jeffrey Costello spoke to Rolling Stone about the haunted sense of humor he shares with partner (and husband) Robert Tagliapietra, their latest musical inspirations and why creative color can be even darker than black.
Even though your latest prints possess an abstract cheeriness, I can sense a spectral quality to them. Where did the idea for these prints stem from, and how did it evolve?
Jeffrey had been making these amazing watercolors of chrysanthemums that began looking like they lived in the worlds of Beetlejuice and The Grinch or with some deepwater anemone. We loved the mix of spooky and humor that came from them. We began layering them and, with color, created a depth that we knew would be great in juxtaposition to our draping; we were creating a kinetic feeling to the clothing.
You’ve described your aesthetic as the fashion equivalent to shoegaze. Do you also consider your work vaguely psychedelic and/or mood-altering?
I think those ideas are always in our heads. We love the 1970s animation of Ralph Bakshi and shows like “Vegetable Soup.” There was a nightmarish quality to them while at the core aiming at something light.
What music were you listening to this season as you designed?
Charli XCX, S.C.U.M., Parenthetical Girls, Grimes, Blouse and, of course, the new Kate Bush!
Did you take inspiration from any unusual cultural sources?
Just Jeffrey’s watercolors.
Is it a challenge to make color seem serious, even dark? And is that your aim?
We love color; it defines the collection’s mood. We love combining colors, both on the runway as well as on the same garment and allowing them to speak to each other and tell a story. The right mix of moody colors can sometimes feel darker than even black.
The hooded look was a highlight, and gave off modern druidess vibe. Story behind this look?
We love characters like Cayce Pollard in Pattern Recognition and Molly in Neuromancer; we love clothes that feel like they could be a part of their worlds. The tights and top are easy and cool, and the coat, which is reversible, can be tied in several ways and is perfect for a character like that. At the root of it, they are clothes you can live in.
Pick one album that best represents this collection.
This is a tough one. Maybe Quiet Life by Japan.
Congrats on your first collection presented as a married couple. Any special post-NYFW celebration plans?
After sales [season], we are hoping to get a trip to Maine in!
Download Costella Tagliapietra’s Fall 2012 Soundtrack, by the Mis-Shapes