Grammys 2014: Beyonce designer Michael Costello on that dress

Beyonce wears a dress by designer Michael Costello at the 56th Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
(Joe Klamar / AFP/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Times Fashion Critic

She may not have walked the red carpet at Sunday’s Grammy Awards. But Beyonce stole the fashion show.

After performing the opening number, the pop diva changed into a sheer white floral lace gown that was exactly the kind of risque style statement we expect to see on music’s biggest night.

The dress was created by 31-year-old L.A.-based designer and “Project Runway” alum Michael Costello. I called him Monday morning at his Hollywood home to chat about the big moment and other projects he has in the works.


Question: What a night!

Answer: I know! I feel like I won a Grammy!

Q: Did you know for sure that Beyonce was going to wear your dress?

A: Absolutely not. It’s Beyonce, so I feel like she has all these wonderful options made out of fairy dust. She has everything at her fingertips. But she chose my dress, which I will be showcasing on the runway at New York Fashion Week on Feb. 8.

Q: How did this come together?

A: I met her stylist, Ty Hunter, at a Golden Globes after-party and he said he wanted to talk to me about a few Grammy options. I was thrilled, but I knew he was also going to have Elie Saab, Valentino and Donatella Versace whipping up creations, too. Then, less than a week ago, I got a call, and Ty said he wanted to work with us on something special. He came to our showroom in downtown L.A. and we started pulling out the goodies. We worked on a few options for her. My whole sewing room was living a “Project Runway” moment for sure.

Q: Tell me a little about the construction.

A: The dress is entirely handmade. I wanted to make it something that would stand out, and be extra special. So I added this nude mesh overlay to the fabric to give it the illusion of skin. I like that it has the feeling of flowers and leaves falling from a winter wonderland onto the nude-illusion fabric. We draped it on the mannequin, and probably made it in about a day. And the hemline is horsehair wire.

Q: Now, tell me a little about yourself. You grew up in Palm Springs, where you opened your first showroom and store at age 15. You also had an internship with Bob Mackie, and appeared on Season 8 of “Project Runway.”

A: I had my first boutique in Palm Springs for about 7 years. I quickly made a name for myself in Palm Springs, making dresses for Toni Braxton, for Barry Manilow’s backup dancers, Mary Bono, Suzanne Summers and Florence Henderson. I had a wonderful moment with Faye Dunaway. She had on a turban and sweat pants; I didn’t recognize her. She came into my place one day and said, “I’m sick of all these $15 stores around here. It’s so wonderful you’re giving fashion back to Palm Springs.”

In 2010, I was cast for Season 8 of “Project Runway,” beating out 22,000 L.A. contestants for that spot. It changed my life, and made me a hometown hero in Palm Springs. I did the “All Stars” show and “Life After Runway.” And in early 2012, I decided to move to L.A., open my own showroom in downtown L.A. and hit it as hard as I could.

Q: You’ve dressed a lot of celebrities, including Paris Hilton, Mary J. Bilge, Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan, Celine Dion and on and on. And last night, you also dressed Skylar Grey and Tamar Braxton. What do you like about red-carpet dressing?

A: You’re designing for a moment. It’s almost like you’re creating magic from the ground up.

Q: Can you give us a sneak peek at the fall 2014 collection you’ll be showing at New York Fashion Week?

A: I was inspired by New York City. (I have tattoos of New York all over my body, and I’m obsessed with the city, especially in the winter. I love how everything is covered in white.) The collection is called “Winter Wonderland.” I wanted to make beautiful things inspired by winter whites.

Q: So if people wanted to buy the exact Beyonce dress, could they?

A: Hmmm ... I’d have to think about it.

Q: Where can shoppers find your collection, and what is the price range?

A: My website is under construction, so it’s best to go to my Instagram page (MichaelCostello31). There’s really a big price range. I have ready-to-wear pieces starting at $300. Gowns start at $995. You can get a custom-made gown for less than $1,500. But we do have gowns priced at $65,000.


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