The World Of Costarella.
Aurelio Costarella is a man you could forgive for being a diva.
Extremely hard working with glittering career, it would be easy to imagine that the demands he places onto himself to excel would be passed onto his team and those around him. Sitting in front of us instead is a softly spoken, well mannered gentleman who is so humble and down to earth that he doesn’t need diva antics to get noticed - his work speaks for itself.
A Perth boy born and bred, Aurelio has been destined for fashion since he was twelve and started creating clothes for his mother to sew for him. A foray into architecture is evident in his work with each piece being draped, shaped or pleated to perfection. This additional training helps transition Aurelio’s work from a dress to a ‘piece’ - something that is so wonderful that it will be kept and passed down for future generations to enjoy. We sat down with Aurelio at Post Emporium to have a chat about his roots in fashion, the hard work behind the glamour and why he loves Perth.
What inspired you to start your label?
Gosh, I really fell into it. I was studying architecture when I started but way before that I grew up with a mother who was a home dress maker so I was surrounded by it all the time. She made all of my clothes growing up, knitted all of my jumpers - she did everything! I think by about the time I was 12 I would tell her what I wanted and she would create it for me. I started sewing at a really early age, by the age of 10 I had made my first actual garment. Mum had, well still has an old Singer which was my Grandmother’s and will eventually become mine. So I used to sit down at that as a kid and stitch together scrap bits of fabric - it was innate and always there.
During my second year of uni I started playing around with making garments and I started selling them at a store called Cream Soda. The 80’s scene in Perth was extraordinary and there was this wonderful underground scene. I then started sewing at night after uni and before I knew it 70% of the store was mine. So at the end of that semester I just thought you know what I am going to drop out and make clothes! After architecture I didn’t want to go into another design course so I am actually self taught. I taught myself to make patterns...I taught myself everything I needed to know. It found me and it really is my calling.
Tell us about your new line; Yttrium?
I wanted to create a second line but I didn’t want it to be a diffusion line. The concept of creating a watered down version of your main line that will potentially cannibalize your business didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I wanted to create something that really spoke to a different market, whilst there will be cross over with my existing clients it is a different way of dressing. I guess for me it is a very different side of my personality but a side of me nonetheless. It is much darker and I guess it is the female equivalent of how I like to dress.
This darker look is what I love and so I have created a brand which appeals to that kind of woman. While the Yttrium woman is design literate and probably works in a design related field the pieces are really open to interpretation because everyone wears a piece differently and that is what I really love to see. I love making people feel good and I’m not saving lives but its something that I love and if I can make people feel better by creating a piece then my job is done!
What challenges have you faced in creating such a successful brand based out of Perth?
Keeping my base in Perth was a decision I made very early on in my career. In the 80’s it was the norm for anyone in the creative field to leave Perth but I always wanted to maintain a Perth base and I have remained committed to that. I am happy to have been able to survive in the industry with maintaining a Perth base as a lot of what I do requires me to be away from Perth. I can’t be in all places at the same time and there is only so much I can do from here which means that I end up spending about 6 months of the year traveling. It gets really grueling but it’s just the nature of the industry and our geographical location but having said that I hope that at some level I have contributed to the landscape and raised awareness of WA around the world.
What has been a career highlight for you?
I think my 30 Year retrospective at the WA Museum was really special and I have never felt that emotional about anything in my life. Surviving 30 years in this industry is an achievement in itself and celebrating longevity is wonderful but the fact that I was celebrating it here at the WA Museum surrounded by the WA creatives who I have worked with was quite overwhelming and was the absolute highlight and career pinnacle for me.
Favourite person to dress?
I have had the opportunity to dress some amazing celebrities which is incredible but the ones where I have an ongoing relationship with are really special. Dannii Minogue for example has a real appreciation for the brand and she will personally come in when I am showing in Melbourne to select pieces from the collection. It is much more special that way as you are working directly with the person and not vicariously through a stylist. I also have the same relationship with Tina Arena as I have known and dressed her for years and so dressing those people is just a bit closer to home as it feels like family.
Ultimate person to dress?
Definitely Charlize Theron or Natalie Portman. I admire them as they are so beautiful and always wear pieces so well but they are also very talented women.
Favourite Perth hangouts?
As I am usually working when I am home I mostly stay in my little North Perth - Mount Lawley area. Places I like include Must, Sayers Sister, Milkd or The Beaufort Street Merchant - places like that.
For more on Aurelio Costarella head to his website here and follow him on instagram @aureliocostarella and @yttrium_ac