There has been a bit of drama surrounding former “Project Runway” designer Michael Costello, whose designs have been worn by Beyoncé, Tamar Braxton, Jessica White and a host of other beauties. It all began a couple of weeks ago when online boutique owner Maxine James expressed in an Instagram post that Michael, who is (or was at this point) one of her favorite designers, purchased one of her designs, then shared it on his Instagram page as if it were his own creation. Her post reads:
“When I received pymt from @mtcostello @michaelcostello a week ago I was lost for words… excited but a TAD confused … I called wubs like ‘wow my favorite designer just purchased a dress from me wow he wants a dress from little ol me?!’ Like this man makes dresses for freakin BEYONCE and he just bought a dress from me!” a week later This happens he literally bought my EXACT dress … Put it on HIS model took pictures in HIS showroom as if he designed this piece his self.
It’s so disheartening I couldn’t help but shed a tear… Him as a designer should know first hand how heart breaking it is for ppl to take something you worked so hard on …..It’s like why? Who does that? I mean we ALL get inspired from some where but it is completely unfair to take someone’s EXACT design and EXACT dress at that and claim it as your own…. @michaelcostello You are already a well-known designer you design dresses for TOP celebrities… Why would you do something so low?
I put so much into my brand … I eat sleep breath it… I paid for so many mistakes while making this design I went through so much to make it perfect …for it to fit perfectly… patterns..grading …cut… Production …photo shoots ALL OF THAT and you literally take my EXACT DRESS and claim it as your own … I tried to reach out to you and you block me ? Like seriously … It’s extremely disheartening I TRUELY did look up to you as a designer…you were one of my favorites….I hope this lasts you for a life time … because God will never continue to bless someone who does evil malicious things like this…. Period.”
After learning of the young designer’s experience, social media users began to go after Michael, asking why he would do such a thing to someone who looks up to him. Now according to reports (and screenshots), Michael became so angry that he lashed out at one person with a racial slur.
“You’re just probably a dumb n—er defending her. I am royalty b—h! I dressed Beyoncé! Who are they gonna believe!” he allegedly wrote.
Once folks learned of his alleged use of the slur, they began reaching out to Beyoncé and her stylist Ty, begging them to stop supporting Michael’s designs. Michael’s partner, Stephanie Costello, later offered an explanation for why they purchased Maxine’s dress and shared the picture on their Instagram page. According to her version of events, she did so because the dress was ripped off from one of their older designs.
“There has been a recent accusation that MT Costello posted a picture on our Instagram account of a dress that was purchased from another designer. The image was later reposted by the same designer and included a caption stating we had bought the dress and were attempting to rebrand it as our own. As the co-designer of MT Costello, I feel it is important to address this matter and provide an explanation to all affected by the issue. I, Stephanie Costello, purchased the garment in question due to the apparent similarities between it and a gown that Michael Costello and I designed that was posted on social media over a year ago.
Regretfully, my emotions became involved when the dress arrived and, driven by frustration, proceeded to photograph the dress on a model in our showroom as a sarcastic and inappropriate attempt to expose the designer’s garment as a forged duplication of our own. I did not, nor ever intended to sell the item as a MT Costello product. As a business we take duplicated work very seriously as it affects our ability to support employees, interns and families. Michael and I work diligently on our gowns adding signature cuts and silhouettes unique to the MT Costello brand.
As designers we grow attached to our creations and I reacted emotionally before considering the effect it would have on the public and the brand. I realize that my attempt to expose the designer and the garment was extremely unprofessional and for that I apologize. I ask for your understanding and forgiveness for my emotionally driven reaction. I have learned a valuable lesson from this experience and fully intend to address similar situations in the future more professionally. Sincerely, Stephanie Costello.”
Maxine has since responded to Stephanie, claiming a similar dress was actually a part of Anthony Vaccarello’s 2012 Fall Collection, which means they’re guilty of the very thing that they have accused her of doing. As for his alleged use of the n-word, Michael claims the screenshots were doctored.
“The hurtful screenshot circulating is fake and does not represent my views on society, nor do I condone the use of such a terrible term,” Michael said in a statement shared on his website. “It deeply saddens me that an individual would go to such lengths at an attempt to demean and misrepresent my character. My designs are centered on accentuating the inherent and natural beauty found in EVERY woman. My career would not be where it is today without the support of individuals from all walks of life.
We are currently looking into this urgent matter to identify the culprit. At this time, we have reason to believe the fake image was edited and circulated by a disgruntled intern who is no longer employed at Michael Costello. Once the individual is fully identified, we intend to pursue legal action.”
There’s quite a bit going on here. What are your thoughts on all of this?