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The Hirsuit Fashion Pursuit

01.29.2008 @ 11:28 AM in Lifestream
Costello_Tagliapietra_pulse.jpg The dresses created by designers Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra are flowing masterpieces, cut from the most elegant and luxurious cloth, draping and forming with perfection to nearly every body type. The designers on the other hand, prefer a bit less expensive and more practical approach to their own personal fashion:
The two met at the now-defunct club Sound Factory in 1994 and have been together, personally and professionally, ever since. Back then, Costello was doing costumes for Madonna's trippy "Bedtime Story" video - "I think that's kind of why I wanted to start helping," says Tagliapietra. They live and work in a modest, 1,000-square-foot railroad apartment in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, a third-floor walk-up. Their current intern - coincidentally, they say - looks exactly like they do: a burly, bearded young man in jeans, a flannel shirt and suspenders, more rustic lumberjack than refined couturier. "We've always sort of dressed alike," says Tagliapietra. "The only thing more comfortable than jeans and flannels are pajamas," Costello says. "And I'm not gonna wear pajamas to a nightclub." "Suspenders are more comfortable than a belt," adds Tagliapietra.
Angel had shown me this article yesterday from The Post that featured "the boys." I've seen and swooned over this handsome couple for ages. Half as much for their good looks, I'm more amazed at their success in an industry that simply defies the "bearish" nature. Perhaps that's why they are still relatively unknown for their incredible work.
The boys themselves - Costello is 46, Tagliapietra, 33 - have their own theories as to why they remain largely undiscovered. "I think part of it is money," says Tagliapietra. They are looking for backing; until then, it's just the two of them designing a 28-piece collection twice a year. They can't afford to hire a full-time pattern-maker or a seamstress, and have no financial safety net. Since debuting in 2005, they've been sold in a handful of stores around the world - but even if they got a bump in orders, they lack the means to produce at a faster pace. Aside from their financial constraints, Tagliapietra is stumped. "Who knows why?" he asks. Costello, too, is perplexed: "I still don't understand how we do these delicate dresses with such meaty paws," he says, chuckling softly.
They work 14-hour days - 20 in the run-up to Fashion Week - and when they have free time would rather go to dinner with friends than network. And they are painfully aware that some of their less talented peers have surpassed them in name and brand recognition by cultivating the right fashion-world contacts and celebrity friends: "It's hard," says Tagliapietra, to watch other young designers cut deals with Target while they struggle. Last year, they were approached by Lord & Taylor's parent company, which offered $1.5 million for a 70 percent stake in the line. Ultimately, the deal fell through: "We just wanted fair control," says Costello.
Meaty paws and a look a like intern? "Coincidentally?" Sure.