Francisco Costa's Brazilian Cool fashion at Macy's

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For Francisco Costa, "Keep it simple" isn't just a saying. It's a principle he weaves into his work as the women's creative director for the Calvin Klein Collection.

"I view my design aesthetic as clean, modern and timeless," he said in an email interview. "I am inspired by my surroundings -- travel, film, books, exhibits, objects and even colors. No matter what my starting point is for a particular season, I use a reductionist process to eliminate and abstract the essence of the clothes and reveal their true spirit."

His latest incarnation of maximum style in a minimalist package is the limited edition Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein mini-collection of dresses, available at more than 80 Macy's locations across the country and online at Locally, it's offered at Ross Park Mall and South Hills Village, while apparel lasts.

The retail chain tapped Mr. Costa to create the line as part of its Brasil: A Magical Journey campaign, a celebration of Brazilian culture that includes a giveaway trip to Brazil and apparel and products inspired by the country and its people. It also features lines by Carlos Falchi (FALCHI by Falchi shoes, handbags, jewelry and scarves) and Rachel Roy and Seu Jorge (apparel, shoes, handbags and jewelry), among others. About 300 Macy's locations, including The Mall at Robinson, Westmoreland Mall, Ross Park Mall, South Hills Village and Monroeville Mall, currently house in-store "O, Mercado" shops, where people can purchase merchandise with ties to Brazil. Through July 15, 10 percent of the sale price of each product benefits The Nature Conservancy's efforts to preserve the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.

The project had professional and personal appeal for Mr. Costa, a native of Brazil.

Calvin Klein "has a very successful, long-standing relationship with Macy's. When they approached me to design a line for their special campaign celebrating Brazil, I was thrilled to participate," he said.

"Not only was this partnership a great way for me to create a line inspired by my Brazilian roots, but it was also a perfect opportunity to offer my designs to a broader customer base."

Dresses are flowing and figure-flattering, without the fuss of patterns, hardware and bright, bold hues, and they're rich with influences from Mr. Costa's homeland.

"I grew up in Minas Gerais, a small Brazilian town in the mountains with a really hot climate. Because of the environment, the people there dressed very simply and had a strong appreciation for nature," he said. "Their organic, monochrome aesthetic largely influenced my design sensibility and this dress capsule."

The collection's pure lines and shapes are nods to modern architecture, as exemplified in the Brazilian Sculpture Museum by Paulo Mendes da Rocha and the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro by Affonso Eduardo Reidy, he said. The color palette of warm cocoas, guavas, clays and neutrals are salutes to sunsets and the warmth of the country.

"Also, all of the dresses are designed in fluid crepes and jerseys, which lend an effortlessness reminiscent of the sense of ease that permeates Brazilian culture," Mr. Costa said.

Pieces typically run between $135 and about $180.

"I designed this special line for the woman who understands fashion and appreciates great value," he said.

Whether he's designing for Calvin Klein or Macy's, his aim for the apparel is the same.

"My goal is to create clothes that empower women."


Sara Bauknecht: First Published June 26, 2012 4:00 AM


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