As the sartorial mastermind behind hip-hop's biggest group, it goes without saying that stylist Zoe Costello has a busy schedule. For a month or so, we'd been attempting to get on a call together, only to be interrupted by a seemingly endless list of unforeseen circumstances (the time difference between Los Angeles and Berlin doesn't help).
Some people decry how their work is all-consuming, but when your task is making Migos look good, you don't have the luxury of an off button. Being on the lookout for the next hot look becomes a lifestyle.
Not that Zoe is complaining. In her formative years, the Londoner interned at Alexander McQueen before studying between London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins. A lot more happened in between, but she eventually wound her way to the US, where she got into styling and steadily built up her portfolio. Fashion is in her blood, and after nearly a decade of hard work, her client list includes the likes of Tyga, Halsey, Rich the Kid, and, of course, Migos.
After finishing her work on the gargantuan "Aubrey & the Three Migos" tour in November, Zoe finally found time to talk to us about her career and what it's like to work with the ATLien icons.
How did you break into fashion?
It didn’t happen overnight. I had to develop my portfolio and worked really hard at doing so. I’ve been out here [in the US] for seven years. But I’ve always had a very strong idea of what I want to do and my aesthetic. I connected with some great photographers and we were in sync with our style.
With musicians, it was a case of doing a shoot with one label, who would then recommend us to another artist and so forth.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Generally, I love the juxtaposition of femininity and masculinity, whether this is done in a subtle way or something a little more blatant.
An example of this would be for a performance at the BET awards with Migos where I found Fausto Puglisi, a designer who primarily works in womenswear. I asked him to deconstruct a dress and reconstructed them into bomber jackets. The embroidery has this feminine feel to it mixed with the toughness of a bomber jacket.
I also love a mixture of high-low, or streetwear mixed with high-end ready to wear.
You touched on Migos. How did you end up working with those guys?
I did a Billboard cover shoot with them, they liked it, and Quavo rebooked me. We did another Fallon performance shortly after and it continued from there. It was all pretty organic.
So yeah, that's how it happened. It was when the first Culture album came out. Do you know the Billboard cover where they're wearing the floral suits? That was it.
When people speak of Migos, it's almost like they're talking about one person, but would you say the guys have their own individual style? Is it a challenge to bring it all together?
100 percent they do [have their own stye], but as a group, they want to look cohesive most of the time. It's different from their solo projects. That was something really important for the tour. I think they look so strong when the look is cohesive.
The only time when it's a challenge is when we stay in a hotel and I have to run from one room to the other and fit each member individually... that's a challenge! But creating a cohesive look that they all like isn't. They share the same love for certain brands. Prada, for example.
You mentioned Prada there. The Linea Rossa line came back last year, and Quavo was one of the first to wear it. I think maybe even the first.
Yeah, they were the first. They really love what Prada is doing. We loved the Linea Rossa line, the color palette seemed perfect for the tour: the vibrant neons on stage paired with the lighting worked perfectly for performance. In my opinion, it looked very strong.
The guys really love jewelry. How hard is it to tie the clothes in with their accessories?
They do all their own jewelry styling. I don’t really touch their jewelry — their jewelry is their aesthetic. If they have to go on the red carpet, we’ll discuss it, like whether less is more, but they really do go with their own look and I don’t get involved. Obviously, it’s such a big part of their aesthetic, and that will impact their image and their overall look.
They like to layer it up. I generally take into consideration that they will be wearing a lot of jewelry and avoid certain items of clothing or go for a look that will accentuate it, for example, the Met Gala.
I think my favorite Migos look was maybe a couple of years back, the Met Gala, when they wore the suits with all the ice.
That was so clean. I loved that. It was so great because it was something people probably weren't expecting.
Have their tastes changed over the years?
I think it's natural, as anyone gets more involved in fashion, that they really start defining who they are through clothing and through their look. They used to wear a lot of streetwear when I started working with them, and now obviously they're doing a lot of high-end designer stuff.
I would say they're pretty eclectic. They just really enjoy fashion and they enjoy different brands and like to wear a variety. It could be Louis Vuitton one week but Dior the next.
The guys are playing much bigger shows than before. Their onstage clothes have almost become like costumes. I'm thinking of the Tripp NYC jumpsuits.
Quavo said he wanted to do jumpsuits when he asked me to do the tour. So I'm like, "Okay, so how do we do jumpsuits in a different way." I look at the stage, look at the colors, look at the lighting, and it's such a huge venue. I always spend time looking at references, and, being British, I was looking at Vivienne Westwood. I was thinking of parachute shirts and stuff like that. I love that everyone's now doing vests and stuff that looks like armor, and I love the shape of the parachute shirts with all the straps.
I found this designer, Tripp. She does stuff that's a little bit punk-inspired. I asked her if she could create something built upon this reference. I asked about 3M and reflective fabrics and stuff because I thought that would work well onstage. They wanted it to feel like a costume. She sent me sketches [of the jumpsuits] and they loved them.
Do they see the jumpsuits as fashion or stage costumes?
They definitely see it as a uniform every night. It was costume. The first half of the show, which is longer, they wore the jumpsuits, and then the second half they would wear stuff like Prada and Calvin Klein. Obviously, you've got to take into consideration that they're gonna be hot, they're going to be onstage for a long time. Like the big puffy coat, the Prada Linea [Rossa] wasn't really workable for an hour or however long that part of the show was.
How did the collabs with AMBUSH and Advisory Board Crystals come about?
I reached out to brands I love that I felt would be a good fit for Migos.
I thought Yoon Ahn could do something really cool and unique. She created these really cool jumpsuits that felt very authentic to her. Migos loved them.
ABC is a small but very talented team. They worked really hard creating amazing graphics and T-shirts, bringing it all together in such a short time.
I generally don't like to be too controlling when it comes to designers creating something custom for my clients unless I'm concerned or feel they aren't getting it, in which case I would probably end up moving in a different direction. I like to send over my mood boards with what I'm inspired by and then let them do their thing.
Do you have any horror stories when it comes to outfits?
I haven't, luckily — touch wood. With Migos, we've had last-minute hitches before going on the red carpet, where I have to go grab some shoes because a shipment didn't get there and we have to run out to the store. I try to avoid those issues, but some things you just can't control, like FedEx and UPS deliveries not arriving.
I had a recent issue, a scare when I did a red carpet with Halsey, and my suitcase with all the red carpet looks didn't get there. I was freaking out. But it came on the next flight — I waited in the airport for three hours.
You mentioned Halsey. Who else are you working with right now?
Rich the Kid, Tyga, 6lack… and there are a couple more artists I’m taking on. It’s important for me to not just work with anyone. I’d rather work with people who I'm completely on the same page with and who understand my style. It's also important that I understand what they're trying to say through fashion as an artist.
How is it working with Tyga?
Tyga’s fun and such a nice guy. As you can imagine, he has a great collection of clothes from all over the world.
He has a pretty specific look and has great knowledge of designers. We love a lot of the same brands such as Doublet and ALYX, and he likes a lot of Japanese designers.
Do you have a favorite piece?
I was really obsessed with this one piece from Margiela recently, this leather jacket we used on Offset. I pulled it like maybe five times and the store, bless them, was so over it but I promised them I would eventually use it and luckily they were so cool about it.
Finally, this music video comes up with Offset and Madison Beer and it worked perfectly. Margiela is probably one of my favorite brands and I like it for rappers as it's a little unexpected.
Do you think there's a trend that's really going to pop off in 2019?
Utilitarian vests and jackets, as well as relaxed tailoring, will be big.
Menswear is having a really exciting moment, though. In 2019, I would really love to see more young menswear designers come up. There are so many incredibly talented artists that hopefully are inspired by designers such as Virgil who can push to get the exposure they need. I'll be looking to support new talent as much as possible.
And is there anything you want people to stop wearing?
Nope, it’s expression. I don't like focusing on what I don't want, I'd rather focus on what I do want and let people express themselves the way they see fit.