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Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa Wants to Cast Models ‘Closer to Reality’

Earlier this week, Christopher Michael of 1 Management cryptically tweeted, “Calvin Klein has discontinued their use of the Size 0-2 Models and trade them in for a 2-4 … a sign of the times indeed.” According to CK women’s designer Francisco Costa, whom we met at the New Museum’s Brazil-themed Spring Gala at 7 World Trade Center last night, though, Michael spoke out of turn. “We have really no rules, you know,” said Costa. “We do what we feel is right for the brand. And I just feel that my customer is a real woman. She’s not 14 years old, she’s not 16 years old, so what I’m trying to do is cast models who are a little bit closer to my reality, a person who goes to my store. The reaction is really to emphasize the customer, the need for the clothes to have that immediate sort of emotion to those who would buy it.”

That’s why, Costa explained, he cast CK models from the nineties like Stella Tennant and Kristen McMenamy in his fall show. Costa said his older models were “happy and amused” to be asked back to the runway. “They did Calvin and they were such an incredible force [in the nineties], so it felt very natural,” he said. “It felt like a family getting back together, so it felt really wonderful. And it wasn’t really a statement, in the sense of, ‘Let’s just bring these models for the press.’ It was a natural feel. I felt it was right for the time. In fact, I did a show in Brazil last October and I decided to cast girls that really had more of a body, and it was very natural.”

Amid the (literally) colorful crowd — guests were encouraged not to wear black — Costa said he wanted to continue infusing CK with Brazilian sensuality and the meticulous craftsmanship he learned from growing up with a mother who owned a childrenswear factory in Guarani, Brazil. That doesn’t mean he’s going to stop making clothes for skinny people, though. “I don’t think we can ignore anyone,” he said. “We are in the business to sell clothes and we are going to cater to everyone who likes the appeal of our clothes.” But Costa thinks it’s time to step away from the waif image Calvin Klein started when he cast Kate Moss in CK Jeans ads. “[The waif look] is just historically what Calvin did. And we’re just in different times and we don’t want to change what was done; what was done was perfect. Calvin is genius. I just want to bring a little bit of newness to today.”

Photo: Patrick McMullan

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