Social media erupted in an outrage this past weekend, as reports surfaced that celebrity fashion designer and Project Runway alum, Michael Costello, engaged in the use of racial slurs from his Instagram account. Known for A-list clients including Beyoncé and the Kardashian sisters, Costello has come under fire for a racially obscene post in response to allegations of plagiarism from emerging brand, Ellae Lisque. Is this the product of an out of control ego, or a more complicated case of retaliation?
Just last month, we at DFW Style Daily visited one-on-one with Costello at Dallas’ historic Adolphus Hotel. There, he made a personal appearance in an intimate setting, as part of The Crowned Brunch event series. The animated designer dished on his rise to fame, interactions with top-tier celebs, and humble upbringing – all in direct contradiction to what transpired over social media this past weekend.
According to a string of posts via Instagram (recorded by DFW Style Daily), Costello was accused of stealing designs from the emerging fashion label, Ellae Lisque (pictured below). The brand alleges that Costello paid for a designer dress through its website, and after delivery, posted the dress on his social media account, taking ownership under his Michael Costello Couture label.
After Ellae Lisque confronted the designer on Instagram, claiming fraud, Costello’s alleged response to the accusations, and to others who chimed in supporting the brand, then went viral late last week. “Your just probably a dumb n***** defending her,” read the inflammatory post. “I am royalty bitch! I dressed Beyonce! Who are they gonna believe!”
Reactions came swiftly as the post swarmed Instagram. While some fans were outraged, for others, feelings of disbelief and disappointment hit home. “Michael Costello is a HUGE inspiration to me,” wrote one Instagram user. “Word to the wise…get a publicist ASAP! Sorry but you’ve lost a fan.”
In what appears to be evolving into a huge public relations nightmare, Costello subsequently posted several explanations, also via Instagram, including the assertion that his shocking comments were photoshopped. Also in his own defense, he posted to another fan’s page that his sister, Stephanie Costello, has an African-American husband with mixed children, and that his family is accepting of the blended family.
Adding celebrity-fueled fire to the flames, Sports Illustrated supermodel and wife to Grammy award-winning singer John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, then openly slammed the embattled designer this past Saturday via Instagram. “So you say all this racist s*** and get that horrible press with people using the hashtag #michaelcostello to call you out on it, then you…beg people to use the same [hash]tag in a positive light,” she wrote. “Covered up all the negative press. Genius and shady all at once. Start a PR firm.”
Given our recent interview with Costello during his visit to Dallas, we reached out to him personally for a statement on the developing story. We received no response. We also approached one of the organizers of The Crowned Brunch, Jalisa Danielle, and she expressed shock regarding the incident. Exclusively to DFW Style Daily, Danielle stated, “…this is in no way something that Michael would say. At least in the time we spent with him before and after the brunch, he was [one of] the most humble, genuine people [that we] have met. This seemed way out of character because he’s so down to Earth.”
The consequences of this ongoing controversy could prove detrimental for Michael Costello, who has reportedly lost the support of many fans already. Some are urging Beyoncé to publicly respond. As seen in many cases before, it only takes one bout of negative press, especially when racial slurs are involved, to cause the downfall of a business or brand.
Facts are still being sorted to determine whether this incident is the product of an out of control ego, or a more complicated case of retaliation through photoshop. We will be paying close attention to developments in this story; follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Michael Costello images, credit Thomas Garza Photography for DFW Style Daily.