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Former Calvin Klein Creative Director Is Building A Brazilian Beauty Brand

The Amazon rainforest, covering much of northwestern Brazil, is renowned for its biodiversity, therefore, it comes as no surprise that the area is home to an endless selection of unique vegetation. The indigenous tribes of the rainforest, for example, use the leaves of the sapucaia tree to relieve skin irritations and the Kaya oil extracted from its seeds to ease muscle pain and regulate blood sugar.

Now, Francisco Costa, the former Women's Creative Director of Calvin Klein Collection, is using ingredients from the rainforest to create his debut skin-care line Costa Brazil, which also features Cacay oil and Breu resin. Costa, who has also worked for Gucci, and Oscar de la Renta, has been relatively quiet for the past three years. “I was pretty exhausted,” he told Refinery29. “The last years at Calvin — I loved the brand and it’s part of my life as a professional, working with that company — but at the end, I felt I needed to express myself even deeper.”

For his new project, Costa has returned home to Brazil. “I felt the urge to engage myself with Brazil, which I hadn’t done for a while. It was a very fruitful experience, very instinctive and not with a lot of help. I just kept going to the Amazon to see different parts of it, trying to do the research to see how I could actually incorporate ingredients and how the Amazon could become the core and soul of the brand,” Costa said.

The result of his research is Costa Brazil, which is launching several key products: Óleo Para A Face, an anti-aging face oil; Óleo Para O Corpo, a firming body oil; Resina de Breu, a rock of Amazonian resin that features burning tray; and Vela, a candle inspired by Piero Manzoni’s “Merda d’artista” from the Arte povera movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Aside from including exotic ingredients, Costa has also attempted to create packaging that reflects his minimalist aesthetic.

“Once you touch the containers, you want to keep them or collect them,” Costa explained. The packaging will continue to evolve and promises to become a collectible item. Costa Brazil also prides itself on using sustainable, recycled, and biodegradable materials whenever possible. The crisp white boxes that contain the products are made from FSC-certified paper, obtained in an “environmentally-friendly and socially-responsible” manner.

Costa has worked with Conservation International to source his ingredients and to respect the comunidades ribeirinhas, or river communities. He collaborated closely with locals to ensure the ingredients were clean and that the population benefited. Additional Amazonian ingredients include Babassu, Camu Camu, Pequi, and Murumuru oils, and Tucuma butter. Costa Brazil is timber-free, which means the nuts are cold-pressed for the oils after they’ve naturally fallen from the trees. They will also work with Conservation International to plant 75,000 trees in the Amazon each year.

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“Being in fashion for so long, things move so fast. In beauty, it’s much more based on protocol and timing, almost sitting and waiting; it takes time to develop something that is this genuine and beautiful. That kind of put me in my place,” Costa said. “It’s very easy to start a marketing company or to do something superficial. But this is out of reality.”

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