Photo: Chelsea Lauren / Shutterstock
Another day another milkshake duck. This is the message I get from the rapidly evolving controversy around Michael Costello. the designer and former Project track The nominee’s name entered the news cycle earlier this week after sharing his own bullying allegations against Chrissy Teigen. The model and cookbook author is criticized for her remade story of cutting and often cruel tweets, especially ones in which she encouraged teenage Courtney Stodden to take her own life. Teigen issued a long, if not necessarily satisfactory, apology for her past behavior this week, noting that she was “privately contacting people. [she] insulted ”in the past. One person who claims not to have received an apology: Costello, who later said on social media that Teigen’s alleged abuse left him “traumatized, depressed” and entertaining “suicidal thoughts.”
Yet Costello’s accusations against Teigen have sparked some of his detractors – people accusing him of sexual harassment, overt racism and body shame. Below is everything we know about how we got here.
On Monday night, Costello posted a statement on Instagram, describing Teigen’s campaign to advance his career in 2014. “I didn’t want to do this, but I can’t be happy until I speak. I need to heal and in order for me to do that I have to reveal what I went through, ”he wrote. “I wanted to kill myself and I am still traumatized, depressed and having suicidal thoughts.”
According to Costello, Teigen first sued him in a public comment on his Instagram page, calling him racist for what he said. described as a “photoshopped comment floating on the internet … turned out to be false”. Costello said he tried to explain to Teigen that he “was the victim of vindictive cyber defamation” by a “disgruntled former employee”. At the time, a designer named Maxie James – alias Maxie J., owner of Ellaé Lisqué and of the Los Angeles boutique, StyleHouse – had accused Costello for co-opting one of his dresses, which prompted a response, apparently from Costello, in which he used the word N. Costello denied posting the comment and blamed an intern, but Teigen didn’t. did not buy. In his declaration On Monday, he posted screenshots of their exchange, in which she apparently threatened him, “You will get what happens to you,” and added, “Racists like you deserve to suffer and die.” You might as well be dead. Your career is over, look. According to Costello, Teigen kept his word, and she and stylist Monica Rose allegedly “threatened[ed] people and brands that, if associated with me in any form, would not work with any of them.
To my ears, yes. But maybe (maybe!) It’s because I got to know a number of other players in this burgeoning scandal.
The day after Costello shared his grievances with Teigen, singer Leona Lewis approached with her own ‘awkward and uncomfortable’ fitting story with the designer in 2014. According to Lewis, Costello and his team were supposed to provide her with a dress to wear at a charity fashion show, but clearly “didn’t want to change” , the size of the sample presented to it. In her Instagram stories, she said the experience had left her “embarrassed” and “deeply hurt” and that it all “came as a total surprise because weeks before I had been told they would do it. so the dress works for me “.
“On the next try-on the day before the show, without any explanation, Michael refused to show up,” Lewis wrote. “He didn’t want to dress me anymore and he abandoned his commitments to me and the show which made me realize that I was not the required body type.”
“Because I didn’t look like a model size, I wasn’t allowed to walk in her dress,” she continued. “I had to sit in the audience and the press asked me why I didn’t take part in the show. I remember having to find excuses because I was so humbled by it all.
On Wednesday, Costello said “Sixth page“:” It’s weird how [Lewis’s] the attitude towards me changed as soon as I spoke my truth about Chrissy Teigen and others trying to blacklist me. Costello claimed he was “very excited” to work with her, and the issues with the dress boiled down to the timeline: he reportedly received his team’s request on January 30, days before the February 6. Because he was showing his own collection the next day, he said: “I thought it would be ideal to loan him one of my centerpieces for charity and then bring it back just in time for my. show.” He couldn’t make this room work, he said, because he was in Los Angeles, but with more notice, “we definitely could have made something tailor-made for Leona.”
“I’ve always been a Leona Lewis fan and she always adored me,” he added. “His team kept asking him to carry us from 2013 to today.”
Lewis wasn’t the only person speaking out on Stories. Tuesday also saw makeup artist and photographer Jordan Liberty call Costello. “He sexually harassed me while I was undergoing chemotherapy,” Liberty said. “The gloves are taken off today. “
According to Liberty, Costello sent her a direct message on Instagram in 2017, praising her work. They started talking and eventually, Liberty says, Costello asked her to shoot an upcoming collection. At the time, Liberty was undergoing cancer treatment and when he agreed to meet Costello the next day, he clarified that the time they had set – “9 a.m. in an açaí bowl” – should be fixed, because it was “really hard to [him] bypass. “But Liberty says as soon as they scheduled the meeting, Costello sent her” a collage of cock photos. “
“I immediately felt that if I did not react favorably to this, it would not go well,” said Liberty. He says he responded and said that although he felt “flattered” he wanted to “keep things professional”. The next day, however, Liberty says Costello continued to push back the meeting time, and when he called the designer to figure out what was going on, Costello allegedly chewed it up on the phone.
Costello did not comment directly on the Liberty claims, but on Wednesday night posted a declaration explaining that he “will no longer address the issues concerning … the false stories of those who aspire to the weight hunt.”
Wednesday, James herself shared his memories of the 2014 incident that apparently started it all. In an Instagram Live with the jasmine brand, James mentionned that while she couldn’t defend Teigen’s past actions, she could provide context for it. She and Costello “had a meeting about seven years ago,” James explained. According to her, it started online, after Costello bought a design from her website and allegedly sold it for five times as much, as if it were her own. James said she tried to contact him personally, but since he never responded, she posted a photo of the receipt and her photo of the dress on Instagram. After the post went viral, James said, Costello called it the N word in the comments.
Again, Costello denied using the racial insult – he says this comment was the work of a Photoshop-saavy intern, and her co-designer explained at the time that she bought the dress because ‘it looked like a Costello had already produced. But James maintains he repeated the insult again, when the two met at a fabric store about a year later; she also says that he accused her of trying to “sabotage [his] business ”and broke his phone. According to James, the couple had a physical altercation and the police arrived. A witness saved James’ account in a video.
The Cut reached out to Costello for comment, but on Wednesday night he shared a statement on Instagram explaining that he had no intention of saying anything else about it. It reads, in part:
My heart is at peace. I will no longer address issues regarding false claims that have turned out to be false, false stories of those who yearn for the weight hunt, and false claims made by relatives of my bullies in an attempt to smear my name. There is a lot that the public doesn’t know and I forgive those who judge me based on what they have heard. My only purpose in telling my truth was that I wanted to break free from the intimidation and blacklist of powers that control Hollywood and high fashion. I knew that by freeing myself and telling the truth, I was becoming the target of smear campaigns even more. Thank you for wanting to join me in my fight but I am really at peace in speaking. I have spoken my truth and I will leave it as it is.
So, uh, I guess that’s it.