This is what minimalists' dreams are made of: an ethically minded, eco-friendly skincare collection, Costa Brazil.
Among his many achievements, Francisco Costa can count the following: revamping Calvin Klein Collection during his 13-year tenure as creative director of the brand; multiple Womenswear Designer of the Year awards from the Council of Fashion Designers of America; and surviving a 10-day journey into the depths of the Amazonian jungle. It was there, in the Acre region with the Yaminawá tribe, a six-hour canoe ride from civilization, that Costa discovered the ingredient that would inspire what might be the chicest sustainable beauty brand you’ve ever seen, Costa Brazil. But before we get into the Breu, the fragrant resin of the Almacega tree that became the signature of the brand, we have to ask Costa about his journey.
Francisco Costa is inspired by the culture, the beauty and the beaches of his homeland.
How did you find yourself in the thick of the Amazon?
Oh my God, you don’t want to know. First I flew from Rio to Brasilia, then Brasilia to the Southern Cross, which is the farthest town you can fly into. We drove five hours into the jungle to the Gonroria River and took a canoe for six and a half hours. I was like, ‘I’m enjoying this tremendously,’ but in reality was terrified. That night we set up our hammocks and went to bed.
You were able to sleep?
Not at all. The forest wakes up at night; it’s like you’re in the middle of 42nd Street. In the early morning I went for a long walk, and when I came back to my hammock, there was someone sleeping on it. It was a lot of little surprises like that. Because in the forest nothing belongs to one person... it’s a communal thing.
And it was on this trip that you discovered the key ingredients in your line?
Yes, every corner of the property had a fire going and it was a nice scent. Burnt wood, but also something more. It was this resin called Breu. When I sent it to a lab in the U.S., I found out that it is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and it has properties to help your respiratory system. My attraction was purely emotion because of the scent.
And on subsequent trips you discovered other ingredients?
Yes, Cacay, a vitamin E-rich oil, and Kaya, the essence extracted from the pods of the Sapucaia tree, which exists all over Brazil but had never been harvested before. These, plus the Breu, comprise the trio of signature ingredients in the line.
How was designing a beauty brand similar to a fashion collection
I‘ve always been editing things down. I am not 100 percent a minimalist but a reductionist. But I knew that the whole spirit of the collection should be something that’s a little more extensive than what I’ve seen in the market.
Tell us about the products.
I launched with four products: a skin ritual and a body ritual. There is a waterless body cream that’s super hydrating, and just gorgeous. And we are going to launch a full bath lifestyle.
Body cream, $98
Photography by: courtesy of Costa Brazil