Representing the creative future

I used to work in fashion but…now I’m a hospital director

After having fulfilled his dream, Eduardo Costa returned to Brazil and became a hospital director

Do you believe in life after fashion? When you identify entirely with your job, it can seem impossible to imagine who you are without it. But life is full of surprises and the skills you develop in art and design school can open many doors. Our new series, where we speak to those who left fashion, proves just that. 

After speaking to a set designer turned pleasure coach, we met Eduardo Costa, who attended business school in Brazil but always had a dream of working in fashion. He took several fashion courses at Central Saint Martins, worked as a stylist for editorials in Vogue and GQ. He even founded the fashion magazine Fashion New Order and realised his childhood dream – attending a Prada show.

However, when COVID hit, the glamorous world couldn’t compensate for the financial struggle of working in fashion anymore. Eduardo moved back to Brazil – and became a hospital director in São Paulo. Here you’ll read how he got there:

My entry into fashion was very cliché and similar to everyone else’s. Fashion has always fascinated me. I loved runway shows and Karl Lagerfeld. To me, fashion is as enjoyable as art, but it is faster and more superficial. I can relate to that. During my studies at the Fundação Getulio Vargas business school, when students would do exchange programs, I asked my parents to pay for a fashion course at the Istituto Marangoni in Paris. It wasn’t good, but I liked it a lot!

I finished business school and moved to London to start the Fashion Folio course at Central Saint Martins. By then, I had already worked with designers in Brazil, although I didn’t know the extent of fashion’s creative side yet. After six months, I decided to continue with several short courses, mainly so I could have access to the university’s resources. During that period, I got together with designers like Judy Wu and Nico Didonna, both from CSM.

It didn’t take me too long to realise that I wanted to become a stylist. I began working with Christopher Maul and assisting at commercial editorials for Vogue and GQ. It was a dream to be a part of, but I realised: this job didn’t fulfil me.

“It is due to liberalism that we think our hearts should be free, so we often ignore the reality of things.”

I was trying to find my niche by analysing what I liked, not what I was good at. Because I do believe that I am good at styling. But I was at a stage of my life where I was very romantic. I lived the liberal cliché of the self-realisation journey, where humans are expected to find out who they are and what they love. It is due to liberalism that we think our hearts should be free, so we often ignore the reality of things. On the other hand, it is interesting that positive feedback can make you start liking something you are good at but haven’t enjoyed before. Self-validation can impact liberalism.

“People always told me I needed to think about what the client and readers like. “

At a certain point on my liberalism journey, I realised that no magazine fit what I liked. And I was not ready to change my personality to conform. Thus, I created a concept for a magazine, Fashion New Order, a magazine fully totalitarian about what I like. People always told me I needed to think about what the client and readers like. But I really wanted this magazine to be an ego trip. So I had this concept of New Order being about my persona. And that really went well!

I ran the magazine for a year. I was invited to fashion shows and even got into a Prada show – it was a great time in my life. But I didn’t get a lot of money from it. It was two interns and me, which turned the magazine into a significant challenge.

“My family used to say: ‘Why aren’t you a banker?’ and I always responded, ‘Because I like fashion!’ “

Then Covid happened. And I had to make a decision whether I wanted to stay in Europe or return to Brazil. Eventually, I went back, continued working on my magazine, but it was barely enough to earn a living.

I remember when I was young, I was terrific at maths, problem-solving, and puzzles. My family used to say: “Why aren’t you a banker?” and I always responded, “Because I like fashion!”

When Covid started, my family was constructing a day hospital in Brazil. My parents don’t know much about business so my mum asked me to set up a business plan for the hospital. Frankly, I wasn’t brimming over with enthusiasm. The financial struggle was the decisive factor.

“My fashion background gives me clarity. I learned to use both hemispheres, the rational and the creative one.”

Surprisingly, I delivered excellent results instead of hurting my parents’ business. Due to my analysis of spending and processes, I cut the prices in half without altering the quality.

My fashion background gives me clarity. I learned to use both hemispheres, the rational and the creative one. One of the many tasks as a hospital director is to supervise medical procedures. Once, I asked a nurse to examine me at the bedside and do a simulation with me. She thought it was really ridiculous, lying half-naked before her. Admittedly, it must have been an unusual experience for her to be monitored that way. But it didn’t feel adequate to simply observe. People expose their bodies at a hospital. It is vital to understand the vulnerability, feeling out of control. And ultimately, how processes and routines have to be altered.

I didn’t perceive the shift as a big challenge. I did well as a hospital director because I had fun doing it and, at least for some parts, didn’t take it too seriously. Thus, my actions were pretty bold. Taking risks is essential in business.

I hope I will go back to fashion. I thought I would come to the hospital and it would be money without happiness. But that is not what happened. I really like it, maybe even as much as fashion. But I also think that there is a side of me that is left dry. I went to both extreme edges of the professional spectrum. I am afraid that there is a side of me that I am not feeding.


Discover the first part of the “I used to work in fashion but…” series here