Hot List: The Beauty Bears
By Noah Michelson
Even in the whacked-out, everything-goes wonderland that is the fashion industry, a pair of burly, plaid-clad lumberjacks designing exquisitely tailored, ultra-feminine garments is something of a surprise. Curio or not, since its debut four years ago, the Costello Tagliapietra label has garnered gushing reviews, a devoted following, and back-to-back CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist nominations in 2005 and 2006. 'Our only aim is to make women beautiful,' say business and live-in partners Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra, whose spring 2009 collection unexpectedly coupled silk charmeuse with leather cuffs and anchor tattoos. 'That was based on that enviably cool mysterious girl you would see at the Ramrod in the '70s -- the kind of girl everyone wanted to dance with and be.' As for their own signature Paul Bunyan'meets'hipster Santa look, they concede it's probably the result of their attraction to 'the masculine paradigm' fostered in their youth as 'it was that gruff bearded woodsman that we were most connected to as children.' Costello and Tagliapietra insist they have something in common with their clients: 'We dress the way we expect our ladies to dress -- not in terms of aesthetic but in terms of wearing what is personal to you and not necessarily following trends or looks verbatim.'