Photo by Vincent Sandoval/FilmMagic

Chrissy Teigen’s return to Twitter — after decades of cyberbullying caught up to her in accusations that arose in May — came with a lengthy  acknowledgement of the harm she inflicted on others via her relentless trolling. Contending her apology, designer Michael Costello revealed the personal trauma he, too, shouldered following his experience with Teigen’s vituperative comments roughly seven years ago. However, in a sharp turn of events, the internet uncovered that Costello’s story was potentially a winding tale of industry bullying and allegations of racism.

The year was 2014 and according to Costello, a photoshopped comment of him using a racial slur circulated on the Internet at the hands of a former disgruntled employee. According to screenshots of a conversation between the Teigen and himself, he pleaded with Teigen to stop stoking the allegations of racism any further for the sake of his career. To no avail, she responded, “Racist people like you deserve to suffer and die. You might as well be dead. Your career is over, just watch.” In his Instagram post on Monday, June 14, he opened up about the “deep, unhealed trauma,” suicidal ideation and depression that he has dealt with since the “vindictive cyber bullying.” The 38-year-old wrote, “There was no way I can ever escape from being the target of the powerful elites in Hollywood, who actually do have powers to close doors with a single text.” Costello, who has dressed the likes of Toni Braxton and Beyonce, claims that Teigen along with stylist Monica Rose spearheaded a smear campaign on his reputation to severe his relationships with brands and ultimately blacklist him from the industry. Revealing that he had recently suffered from suicidal thoughts and was under close watch, he continued, “Now, I am finding the courage from within to share my truth because I cannot heal from the darkest hour of my life until I reveal.”

Investigating into Costello’s claims of the photoshopped racial slur, users on Twitter found that the 2014 fiasco apparently began with a dispute between himself and up-and-coming Black fashion designer Maxine James. Costello reportedly purchased a dress from her and then posted it to his Instagram page without giving her any credit, an obvious snub to a promising designer’s craftsmanship. In an effort to clarify the controversy, Costello’s sister and creative partner, Stephanie, admitted that she purchased the garment “to expose the designer’s garment as a forged duplication” of a gown that she and Costello had previously designed. However, in what Costello claims is a photoshopped response, a screenshot of him responding to a critic with the n-word immediately went viral.

Following Costello’s public revelation on Monday, James took to her Instagram to publicly refute his claims of bullying and finally share her side of the story after years of remaining silent. “He’s not telling the whole story which is absolutely making my skin crawl. He was getting blacklisted for calling me the N word, twice, once online and once in person,” James said, alleging the Costello’s PR team has pushed claims of photoshop to cloak the truth. She revealed that she also got into a physical altercation with Costello the fabric store and was once again subject to racial slurs. “I didn’t even know this man and I was brand new to the industry. He continue to bully me 7 years ago and now he wanna claim victim?” she added.

Bleeding Love singer Leona Lewis also chimed in on the conversation regarding Costello’s past offenses, claiming the Project Runway star refused to dress her for a charity fashion show due to her body type. “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,” Lewis said. She further explained that Costello’s refusal to alter his garment to her size not only resulted in her humiliatingly sitting in the audience but left her with deep insecurities wounding her body image. “I’m not discounting Michael’s experience as that is an awful thing to go through and I wish him so much love and healing,” she said. She continued, “But the pot calling the kettle black in this situation doesn’t sit right with me. Bullying comes in many different forms.”

We’ve reached out to Maxine James for comment and will update this story if/when we hear back.

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