If fans are waiting for Beyoncé to take a stand against beloved fashion designer Michael Costello for allegedly using a racial slur they will be waiting for...eternity.
The “Fashion Runway” contestant-- who's also designed gowns for Ashanti, Tamar Braxton, Jessica White and others-- has found himself in the middle of a major controversy that Queen Bey is being dragged into by disgruntled fans.
Up-and-coming designer Maxine James accused Costello of purchasing one of her designs and passing it off as his own. The designer posted a side-by-side screenshot of Costello’s purchase on one of his models and her original dress.
In part she wrote:
"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?"
When the photo went viral, supporters took to social media to call Costello out on his alleged thievery. Once the designer's Instagram was flooded with criticisms, he allegedly responded to one commenter by calling the person a “n-gger.”
“[You're] just probably a dumb n-gger defending her. I am royalty b-tch! I dressed Beyonce! Who are they gonna believe!” he allegedly wrote.
Despite there being a screen grab of the designer using the ugly racial slur, he has released a statement saying it’s photoshopped. In a message posted to his website, he wrote:
"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. 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."
Meanwhile others who witnessed the entire drama go down say it was absolutely Costello who used the slur. John Legend’s wife and model Chrissy Teigen also doesn’t buy it.
In an Instagram comment she wrote, “So you say all that racist sh-t and get that horrible press with people using the hashtag #michaelcostello to call you out on it, then you create a contest where you beg people to use the same tag but in a positive light. Covered up all the negative press. Genius and shady all at once. Start a PR firm.”
Beyoncé fans have swarmed her stylist Ty Hunter's Instagram and Beyoncé’s Facebook page to urge the singer to cut off all ties with the designer.
Costello’s sister and business partner Stephanie Costello offers her side of the story in a statement, claiming the only reason she bought Maxine’s dress was because it resembled a dress they previously designed. She said she posted the picture of Maxine’s dress on their model to show it was an imitation.
"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, preceded 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"
If JAY Z didn't sever ties with Barney's for racially discriminating customers, certainly Beyoncé won't take a stand on this issue. After all, when Gwenyth Paltrow tweeted "Niggas in Paris," the Carters maintained their friendship with the actress.
(Photos from left: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Michael Costello via Instagram)