Paul Costelloe is one of the most established names in British and Irish fashion. The house has been a leader in the use of handcrafted, luxurious fabrics combined with cutting edge design, innovation and creativity. I got to have a quick chat with Paul Costelloe backstage after his A/W 2017 catwalk show.
Paul Costelloe began his path in the fashion industry at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris, and has throughout his career designed for Jacques Esterel, La Rinascente and Anne Fogarty, before establishing his label, Paul Costelloe Collections.
I was extremely intrigued to be invited to such a prestigious show, and as the doors to the Waldorf Hilton sprung open, and everyone was handed a glass of champagne, I could immediately sense why this particular location had been chosen to showcase the collection. The Edwardian building located in the centre of West End complimented Costelloe’s elegant, romantic and theatrical brand perfectly.
As the lights dimmed and the show began, it was evident to see the multicultural heritage of Paul Costelloe, as the materials and textures varied – from traditional to provocative. There was an emphasis on structured coats, jackets and trousers that streamline the body.
The models had a horizontal line of red eye makeup that gave them a daring look. The attached hood was a focus of the show, with a distinct Japanese influence of kimono-style dresses. Costelloe incorporated corsets over culottes and tweedy jackets over leather trousers. The exposed silver embroidered were a favourite among the crowd, as the iPhones were raised in order to get a quick few seconds of the garment as the model passed.
Paul Costelloe himself came to the catwalk to say his thanks during the finale, but instead of shying away as many designers do, Costelloe took one of the models for a swing in the middle of the runway, putting a smile on everyone’s face.
The humanity was there – in his designs and personality – and his dance on the catwalk was what made him instantly memorable and intriguing.
This made the press, business partners and family gather around him like a magnet backstage after the show came to an end. It was clear to see why – Costelloe greeted them all with a smile, laughter and chit-chat.
Congratulations on the beautiful collection! What were some of the highlights from tonight’s show?
“I am particularly satisfied with the way that the AW17 collection was expressed on the catwalk. There were a number of materials; all expressed at one moment. The collection is Shakesperian, theatrical, and it got that experience onto the catwalk, without becoming too costumey, or formal. I kept it young, I kept it fun, and yet it was more or less taking 16th-century dress code into the 21st century, without becoming too heavy and opinionated.”
Could you tell us about the inspirational process that went into creating the collection?
“The inspiration was very much to capture the hood. Everybody in the 16th century wore the hood to cover their face, but I brought it into glamour, by combining the hood with cotton blouses and long dresses. Very much taking inspiration from tales like Robin Hood and Red Riding Hood.
The whole collection is taking costume design into fashion. Making it suitable for people to wear down King’s Road, Sloan Square and Soho.
Most of all, it was important for me to keep it fun and make people go “That’s interesting!“”
Could you tell us about how you adjust to the changes that we see in the industry at the moment, with fashion season taking a turn towards ‘See Now, Buy Now’?
“That is too exhausting! I am not commercial. Doing catwalk shows, I am being creative and try to uphold the motivation and excitement. Unless you are a large organisation, it is impossible for a tiny company like myself to execute a process like that in a small studio in London. Everything is big here in London, and that is the scary situation.”
I exited the Waldorf with exhilaration. The lively energy backstage and the imaginative collection left me inspired, as I strolled down the Strand. The collection Costelloe presented showed fantasy, originality, and most of all, elegance.