Project Runway All Stars Blog
Bonus: What's Michael Up To?
What do you think Michael Costello was up to after the â€œProject Runway All Starsâ€ù Season 1 Finale? Crying in a corner over his third place finish? Hell no! Homeboy was sipping piña coladas poolside in Hawaii as he took a phone call with yours truly. In an exit interview, I get Michael to name drop a little, forgive me for any shortage of bloggy adoration and shares some pictures of him and some familiar faces.
Lisa Raphael: When I met you at the Miss Piggy/Paley Center event, you talked to me about your experience on â€œProject Runwayâ€ù Season 8, where you were open about your motherâ€™s acceptance of you; how has your relationship been with your mom since?
Michael Costello: Sheâ€™s a little more involved now. She always comes up to me [and my designs] and is like, â€œyou should put sleeves on this,â€ù â€œyou should make the sleeve longer,â€ù â€œyou shouldnâ€™t show so much skin because Godâ€™s going to get mad.â€ù Yeah thatâ€™s what she tells me, sheâ€™s like, â€œwhy does the slit on that have to be so high?â€ù â€œCan you put a lining so her nipples donâ€™t show.â€ù
So sheâ€™s like your Joanna Coles when Joanna Coles isnâ€™t around?
She is! My mom is so Joanna Coles, except without the Joanna Coles' style.
The fans always seem really touched by your friendship with Mondo. Did your time on â€œAll Starsâ€ù strengthen or hurt your relationship?
It definitely strengthened the relationship. We went in it to win it, both of us. From day one, we said this is all about me and you, our goal is just to keep beating everyone out and us making it to the final. We made a pact.
People didnâ€™t know that we couldnâ€™t talk about it before. I didnâ€™t call him and ask him if he got the call to be on â€œAll Starsâ€ù and he didnâ€™t call me and ask me if I got the call. We would mention little things here and there, like Iâ€™d throw certain dates at him and say â€œhey, are you going to be in New York at this time? Are you going to be in L.A. at this time? Iâ€™m booked for this, Iâ€™m booked for that, can you come?â€ù We were both thinking exactly the same thing but we never gave into it. So when we did see each other [that first moment on â€œPRASâ€ù], what you saw was real and we were just really happy to see each other!
Weâ€™re both divas, a kind of odd â€œBert and Ernie married couple.â€ù When weâ€™re around each other, we want to do everything together; we want to drink together, go out together, shop together, hang out with the same people together and we do all the same things together. Totally different aesthetics, totally different personalities but our friendship really is genuine. The thing is, I wish I couldâ€™ve won and he didnâ€™t! [Laughs]
But you have some other things up your sleeve. Youâ€™re always on the go, always!
Oh my God, Iâ€™m so not disappointed about not winning. Itâ€™s not bothering me; I think the thing that bothers me is because I just wanted to work closer with Ken Downing, who I do keep in contact with. And that is all because of Joanna Coles.
At the final â€œProject Runway All Starsâ€ù fashion show, Joanna came up to me and said, â€œIf youâ€™re smart, which I know you are and you probably already have a trick up your sleeve, the best thing for you to do is go and talk to Ken Downing. Get his phone number because he talked to me personally and told me how much he loved your collection, so you should talk to him.â€ù And I did. I donâ€™t have fear about talking to people or any of that kind of stuff so I went up to him and said, â€œListen. I love the critique you gave me, I thought it was wonderful and Iâ€™d still love to do something with you. When I went back to New York in September for the â€œProject Runwayâ€ù Season 9 Finale Fashion Show during Fashion Week, we were at the Tommy Hilfiger show together.
I remember when you won the Miranda Kerr challenge, one of the other designers said to you, â€œoh now you can say that you designed for a celebrityâ€ù but youâ€™ve had celebrity clientele for years, correct?
Yes. I opened up a store when I was 15-years-old and met Toni Braxton. She came in one day when she was in Palm Springs and she was looking around and she had a little baseball cap on and I didnâ€™t know it was her and then she was on the phone arguing with somebody about something and I looked at her and I was blown away. I was like, â€œIâ€™d love to work with you!â€ù And now we have an 11-year relationship together.
Then with Celine Dion, I went to her concert in Los Angeles and my mom was with me and we were really persistent and I made this sketchbook with her face in every illustration and somehow we were able to get a picture with Celine Dion and her assistant was there. My mom went up to the assistant and she said, â€œMichael would really like to do something for herâ€ù and she said, â€œwell whoâ€™s Michael?â€ù and she said, â€œthatâ€™s my son, heâ€™s 14-years-old.â€ù And the assistant was blown away. So I met her and Celine was asking me if I sew and I said I didnâ€™t, I can only drape and cut and that sort of thing but I made six dresses for her for two years and she wore them to different places.
What years was that?
This was like â€™97 and â€™98. Thatâ€™s going way back but since then, Iâ€™ve worked with Michelle Williams, Paulina Rubio in a Dr. Pepper commercial.
Did you do stuff with Paris Hilton too?
Yeah I did, in 2002, I made a dress for her to wear to the Nickelodeon Kidsâ€™ Choice Awards. In 2004, I made a dress for her to wear to her book signing in Los Angeles. In 2007, Nicole Richie came and shopped at my boutiqueâ€_ you want the date? It was June 8th, 2007. Do you want to hear something funny? I know the date because itâ€™s posted in MySpace pictures.
I worked on the website for "Project Runway" Season 8 so I had to do all this research on you and I remember that and being really blown away by the people youâ€™ve worked with. But then I watched Season 8 and when people were kind of picking on you, I was like, â€œWhy doesnâ€™t he say, â€˜Eff you guys! I did billboards for Toni Braxton where sheâ€™s wearing my designs!â€ù Why didnâ€™t you do that?
I donâ€™t know, I just didnâ€™t want to be that guy who just brags about my work because I just always thought it was so unprofessional. But you know, I wish I was a little more of a diva on Season 8. I probably wouldâ€™ve made it to the finale.
You have a very interesting quality; where you seem dramatic on TV but then you also have this incredibly calming power. Especially when you were between Austin and Mondo in the finale you werenâ€™t throwing anyone under the bus, you didnâ€™t rat people out, you stayed true and kind of diffused the situation.
I think it all has to do with how I was raised. I donâ€™t like to make trouble, I donâ€™t know why but I always try to fix things. Iâ€™ve noticed that now about myself in the past year that Iâ€™m always trying to fix something. Iâ€™m always trying to make sure everythingâ€™s okay with everyone. I think itâ€™s more of a comforting thing so I can be able to finish my stuff better. I hate tension and drama and yelling, itâ€™s really uncomfortable and itâ€™s always unimportant.
With me being dramatic, I think that has a lot to do with facial expressions but people have to understand that this is not a small thing, this is f***ing â€œProject Runwayâ€ù! Itâ€™s a huge deal and there are some who donâ€™t get and they need to stop and get it. So of course when Diane von Furstenberg compliments your work, itâ€™s something Iâ€™ve always dreamed of, itâ€™s kind of like a smack in the face. Itâ€™s like, wow, that happened. I guess that would be dramatic.
Did Diane von Furstenberg end up contacting you?
I ran into her September at Fashion Week in the Meatpacking District right outside her store this is the best story ever, I love this. My friend was with me, my model, and we were going out for Fashionâ€™s Night Out. We were driving towards Dianeâ€™s place, we look outside and I see her just getting ready to cross the street so I tell the cab driver, â€œStop the car!â€ù And heâ€™s like, â€œI canâ€™t stop here!â€ù And Iâ€™m like, â€œUh yeah you can so we jumped off the car and I ran up and gave her a hug and she got so scared but then she looked at my face and was like, â€œOh, hi baby, how are you? Great to see you.â€ù I said, â€œItâ€™s so good to see you and Iâ€™m going to call you!â€ù And she said, â€œYou better call me!â€ù
Thatâ€™s exciting, do you think you will really work with her?
Now that I think about it, Iâ€™m so involved in my own thing and my own career. I am getting by, Iâ€™m doing good, things are wonderfulâ€_ I donâ€™t know if I would drop all of that for the position to work for Diane because I know I wouldnâ€™t be working directly with her. I mean, I said before it was my goal to move to New York, get a job with Diane von Furstenberg, work under her for so long and chalk up some experience but I donâ€™t think of the qualifications youâ€™d need to get that job. You would have to be an expert pattern maker, a graduate of Parsons or some design school thing. The way I do things would never work there unless I was working directly with Diane.
Well you seem to be doing your own thing and doing well with it!
Yeah, I donâ€™t want to stop. I feel like Iâ€™m on a roll.