Francisco Costa is as understated and confident as he is effortlessly elegant and open-minded - qualities that aren’t often synonymous with leaders in the New York fashion world - and, just like the fragrant Breu scent that emanates from a stylish Costa Brazil tin, in every corner of the room - there is a sensual quality to any time spent with him that leaves you a little calmer, a little more refreshed and a whole lot more connected to the earth and the other people that inhabit it. This week on Semaine, we bring you Francisco’s new brand, Costa Brazil, that’s pioneering sustainability in the beauty industry with their manifesto - “the spirit of beauty is inseparable from the health of the earth”.
Moving to New York knowing very little English in 1986, from the mountainous, verdant landscape of his home in Minas Gerais - one of Brazil’s largest states - Francisco would learn the language by day and take classes by night, at The Fashion Institute of New York. It is from FIT where he was honoured as a Doctor of The Arts, 30 years later, in 2016 - just after leaving his 13 year tenure at Calvin Klein, succeeding Calvin himself, as the creative director for women’s wear.
Prior to his incumbency at Calvin Klein, he worked alongside Oscar De La Renta - who he cites as one of his greatest mentors. He was then appointed chief women's wear designer at Gucci by Tom Ford, working alongside Christopher Bailey and Clare Waight Keller.
In recent years, his newest venture has reinforced the natural essence of his homeland as he focuses on sharing the precious, natural ingredients that set apart his new beauty brand, Costa Brazil, with the world.
Though a hard gap to bridge for some, making the move from women’s wear to beauty products hasn’t been a difficult revelation for Francisco, who first had the idea for the brand when conducting research for a previous collection at Calvin Klein, however, he found one problem with starting the company.
“The ingredients felt like they were missing.” After travelling to Europe and visiting lab after lab, he struggled to find an essence of quality in the manufactured scents “it didn’t feel real to me” so it is no wonder he went searching for something more.
At the core of Costa Brazil is what they call their Jungle Complex, “an exclusive beauty trinity containing mineral-rich Kaya, antioxidant-packed Cacay and the sacred soothing properties of Breu resin.” The Jungle Complex is a product of a trip that Francisco embarked upon in the Amazon rainforest, that turned out to be a “totally surprising journey” resulting in the line of oils and aromatic scents, containing a combination of ingredients that the industry has never seen before, that we now know as Costa Brazil .
As he ventured into the depths of the rainforest, he met the indigenous Yawanawas tribe. Experts in their environment, the Yawanawas “hold the key to the Amazon” and this is where Costa Brazil was really born; not in a science lab, not in perfumery but underneath the leafy canopy of the Earth’s most vital life source.
With multiple trips back to visit the Yawanawas along with his disarming charm and good intentions, it didn’t take long for Francisco to learn all he needed to of the life-giving substances that make up the Costa Brazil Jungle Complex trinity. Sustainably gleaned from the forest, with the locals, their products are “free of parabens, phthalates, pegs, polysorbates, silicones, sulfates, gluten, glycols, mineral oil, and artificial colourants. Full of antioxidants, minerals, micronutrients, and raw magic” Breu is even said to be effective in helping you activate your sixth chakra.
With such an impressive list of pros, we can’t help but ponder with Francisco, how did we get so far away when nature has all the answers? And of course, the responsibility of respecting nature’s power must come into play here…
“Through Conservation International, who we work with a lot, we’ve identified one community that we actually buy from… It’s not just a beauty brand, we’re talking about a lifestyle - it’s a hub of people with the same values. Costa Brazil is about engagement.” The locals help to determine how best to deal with the ingredients and to get the best out of them in the safest way which ensures that Costa Brazil are timber-free, so the nuts are cold-pressed for their oils after they’ve naturally fallen from the tree.
The brand’s conception comes at a turbulent time for Brazil’s environmental policy under the leadership of their new far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. Recent statistics show that, according to satellite data, an area roughly the size of a football pitch is now being cleared every single minute, but Bolsonaro is ignoring the statistics he is confronted with, adamant that the deforestation will fund economic growth. It’s never been more important to invest in the communities of the Amazon who know how to best treat the environment and to furthermore protect their home. Through their work with Conservation International, Costa Brazil support an initiative that annually plants 75,000 trees.
As we’re inundated with headlines that tell us of our impending doom thanks to the self-inflicted climate crisis, the conscious choice to make is our own. Where, who and how we shop matters so let’s again listen to Mother Nature and tune in to the gifts that she has given us. Come back to the source and discover Costa Brazil on Semaine.com this week.
By Kezia Navey for Semaine.
Articles for your reference: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/28/world/americas/brazil-deforestation-amazon-bolsonaro.html https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-48827490