Fashion: one day you’re in, and the next, you’re out. Or, in what is quickly becoming one of the messiest chains of “she said/she said/he said/she said” to hit the social media streets in a minute, one day you’re calling out a bully, and the next, you’re being called one.
That was the case in the spring of 2020, when cookbook author Alison Roman came for Chrissy Teigen—only for the script to be flipped almost a year to the day when Teigen was called out by former reality star Courtney Stodden for far more vicious behavior. Teigen, of course, issued a lengthy (and by some accounts, still inadequate) apology just this week—only to face a new accusation on the same day by Project Runway alum Michael Costello, who claimed he’d become suicidal after Teigen blacklisted him following an online mischaracterization.
Now, it’s apparently Costello’s turn, after “Bleeding Love” singer Leona Lewis made public her own allegedly “hurtful” and “uncomfortable” past incident with the designer via an Instagram Story on Tuesday, captured by Page Six.
Referencing a 2014 charity event that is believed to have been New York Fashion Week’s popular Go Red for Women The Heart Truth Red Dress Collection show, Lewis claims Costello, her assigned designer, reneged on dressing her for the runway at the last minute.
“When I got to my fitting I was made to feel very awkward and uncomfortable as the dress was a sample size and he/his team clearly did not want to alter it to fit me,” wrote the British singer-songwriter, who’d flown to New York for the event, which raises awareness about heart disease in women,. “This came as a total surprise because weeks prior I was told that they would make the dress work for me. At the next fitting, the night before the show, with no explanation at all, Michael refused to turn up. He no longer wanted to dress me and he abandoned his commitments to me and the show which made me well aware that I wasn’t the body type required.”
“I was so embarrassed and deeply hurt. Because I didn’t look like a model size, I was not permitted to walk in his dress,” Lewis continued, noting that she was relegated to the audience, and made up excuses to questioning press. “I was so humiliated by it all. I feel like I was made to look as though I pulled out and was being difficult...I suffered a lot, both personally and professionally.”
Now, we aren’t going to get into the body politics that somehow cast Leona Lewis as a woman of size, but the singer says that despite never telling Costello how she felt at the time, she “was left with deep insecurities” following the incident. “I’ve had to work hard over the years to love my body,” she added.
“I know [Costello’s] designs are catered to women of all sizes now, and I’m glad he saw the light over the years,” she noted. Lewis also made sure to state that she was “not discounting [Costello’s] experience” with Teigen—though in light of the latter’s apology, Lewis felt the model deserved compassion rather than an attempt to “try and kick them when they’re down,” adding: “The pot calling the kettle black in this situation doesn’t sit right with me. Bullying comes in many different forms.”
All of this may seem at least a little ironic to anyone who watched Costello’s season of Project Runway in 2010 (if you know, you know), but he’s far from unique in that respect (the late Karl Lagerfeld comes to mind). Although he’s reportedly “still waiting” for an apology from Teigen, he’s seemingly less pressed to apologize to Lewis, instead disputing her account with his own Instagram Story (also captured by Page Six).
Costello’s Story included a screenshot of a February 2015 post from the singer’s account in which she wears a red gown with the caption: “So sassy in my @michaelcostello dress.” (No word on whether it was the infamous red gown she allegedly didn’t get to wear in the charity show.) Costello’s own caption on the post, addressed directly to Lewis and prefaced “no diss no shade no hate...I love you and your music,” claimed he’d reached out to her personally—but more importantly (to him), had been contacted several times in the intervening years by Lewis’ stylist and team with requests for looks, including within recent months.
The moral of the story? People are messy—and however one feels they’ve been victimized, chances are someone else considers them the bully. Lewis acknowledges as much, preemptively apologizing to anyone who’s been bullied or that she may have ever hurt unwittingly—as she graciously speculates Costello likely did, adding: “We are all trying our best and learning.”