Vintage Texas Designer Victor Costa "King of the Copycats" Enjoys Another Generation's Admiration


"Victor Costa has always loved fashion. Known as the "King of the Copycats," his status in the design world is unique. Costa designed dresses for childhood friends in Houston and was entranced by Hollywood film stars and their glamor. He went on to study at the Pratt Institute, New York, and later spent a year at the École of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris.

New York's Seventh Avenue fashion business was built on copying Paris designs. Buyers and designers alike would flock to Paris to buy a model to "knock-off" or reinterpret. Hattie Carnegiebuilt a respectable business doing this and nurtured several important designers, among them Norman Norell. The years after World War II saw an escalation of Paris couture show photographs being published in newspapers, but with a significant lag time. When Costa returned from Paris to New York in 1959 he was immediately charged with copying the latest Paris designs. Costa, who had a photographic memory and a quick hand at sketching, was able to translate what he saw on the Paris runways into successful designs for the Suzy Perette company during the 1960s.

I have some customers that I have been dressing for 30 years and now I'm dressing their daughters and their granddaughters. So there are three generations of Victor Costa customers out there—it keeps you young because the younger girls, the granddaughters, have made a whole return to tradition. In the 1990s, with the AIDS epidemic, a return to traditional values has put a new emphasis on the wedding and all of its attendant parties, teas, fêtes, and receptions." (Myra Walker)

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