Designer Enza Costa Designs From Within
by emili vesilind
|Enza Costa’s collection features supple knits that flatter a woman’s form|
|A striped cashmere pullover ($252)|
Pima cotton tees, fine-gauge cashmere pullovers, and hooded alpaca-fleece cardigans so comfy-cozy, you almost expect a roaring fire to spark up as you pull them on—Enza Costa makes the kind of luxurious casual wear stylish women in Los Angeles love to live in.
The 39-year-old designer, who launched her Enza Costa Rogue collection in 2007, is a purist when it comes to fabric—favoring simple, superlative materials knit in unusual ways—and is a women’s best friend when it comes to garment construction, cutting looks to slim and lengthen the female form. “I’m always looking at proportion, silhouette, and how the fabrics feel—how they translate into the real world,” says Costa, who counts Intermix, 10 Corso Como, and Selfridges & Co. among the brand’s many marquee retail accounts. “I have a life. I work and I have a lot going on. But I want to feel and look good.”
A T-Shirt Start
The line’s core pieces—tissue-thin pima cotton tees—are the ultimate feel-good wardrobe staple. The buttery-soft tops quickly became the bestselling items in her early collections, and, for a time, Costa pared down her offerings to solely feature the tees. “I had to reel it in,” she says of the cutback, noting that the brand launched at the start of the recession. “I’m a designer, but I’m also a business person.”
But Spring 2012 marks the return of Costa’s full collection, featuring sumptuous knitwear (including brightly striped pullovers and cardigans), a dramatic silk-jersey gown with a slinky cutout back, and gossamer pleated silk skirts that feel like modern versions of Victorian-era underpinnings.
Costa, who names avant-garde designers Haider Ackermann, Nicolas Ghesquière, and Phoebe Philo among her favorite designers, was inspired by geometry this season. “I’ve always been fascinated by geometric shapes and how they are repeated everywhere,” she says, explaining that every skirt, when laid flat on a table, is a perfect circle.
The looks feel edgy, but also universal; most could slide seamlessly into any modern woman’s wardrobe, regardless of her age or personal style. “I don’t usually hit trends,” says Costa. “I tend to be more classic and sporty, and that’s innately who I am.” And though the collection feels as fundamental and no-frills as a great menswear line such as Rag & Bone, it’s shot through with feminine sensuality via its supple fabrics and the single-seam construction used to create each piece (resulting in a slightly clingy but flattering fit). “As much as I like androgyny, I think there’s innately something about me that’s feminine and sensual, and that comes out in the clothes,” says Costa, who begins designing each season’s line by looking for the missing sartorial links in her own closet.
The quietly stylish designer, who’s originally from Toronto but now lives with her husband and their baby boy in Santa Monica, already knew she wanted to be a fashion designer by her late teens. After a couple of years of college, she left to study fashion design in Florence, Italy (she is first-generation Italian on both sides). Her plans to settle down in Toronto were upended after she met an LA-based apparel executive who was launching a contemporary line while she was vacationing in Las Vegas. The friendly acquaintance turned into a business partnership, and Costa moved to Los Angeles permanently to design for their label, LAmade. She eventually left to start her namesake line, which underwent different incarnations before solidifying itself as one of the most luxurious T-shirt lines on the planet.
The designer hopes to flesh out the collection in the coming seasons, adding more knits, outerwear, and pants, and eventually bringing in other designers to augment its scope. She already has a “cult” following amongst Hollywood’s jet set: Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez, and Olivia Wilde are among the dozens of A-listers who’ve worn the collection. But Costa’s more concerned with creating a perfect, pill-free cashmere-blend textile than another celeb hit in US Weekly. “I really design for myself,” she says. “And what I want is quality at a great price.”
photograph by beth coller (opener, costa)