Francisco Costa was thrilled at the chance to design a wedding dress for one of his dear friends. It was the first time he’d gotten back into the studio since departing his post as women’s creative director at Calvin Klein back in April after almost 14 years at the helm (before that he held design positions at Gucci and Oscar de la Renta). The bride, writer and editor Natasha Wolff, always knew Costa would be the one to dress her for the big day. “Francisco is an old family friend, and he was one of the first people I shared the news of the engagement with,” she explains. “He called me right away and said: ‘Darling, let’s get your measurements and get going on the dress.’ ”
Wolff was to be married in a private ceremony surrounded only by immediate family members at the Colony Club in Manhattan. The following evening, they’d celebrate with dinner and dancing for 120 guests at the iconic Monkey Bar, for which she would wear the custom creation by Costa. Because the wedding itself was nontraditional, it was befitting that Wolff wanted something completely unique when it came to the dress. “I decided early on that I didn’t want a white dress,” she says. “When I first met with Francisco, we agreed to do something in a color, something more fun, like a great party dress or a gown that I could wear again.” Their initial meeting happened in February after the Oscars, when Costa was still at Calvin Klein and had just designed a stunning sequined emerald green red carpet dress for Saoirse Ronan. “I loved that dress and loved the color on her,” says Wolff. “Since we have similar complexions, we started with that color, but Francisco felt we shouldn’t replicate the dress exactly.” Wolff also tried on a few dresses from the Calvin Klein archives, including those worn by Diane Kruger at the Met Gala and Naomi Watts at the Academy Awards.
For Costa, however, this process was not about replicating or mirroring anything he’d made before. “She was truly the inspiration,” he says. “She came to the studio for the first time and had just gotten a haircut—a short 1920s bob. I knew we wanted to do something that paid homage to that era, to old New York and its glamour.” After experimenting with shades of green and nude, Costa ultimately decided that a gray-blue shade would be just right. He began the design process by draping tulle and muslin fabrics on a bodice to “get a sense for the length, the neckline, and to get a vibe for what the end result might look like.” The designer, who worked with patternmaker Nicolas Caito at his atelier, ended up with a tulle and sequined material that created a visual dégradé of lightness from the top of the hemline to the waist.
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