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Michael Costello - Runway - September 2018 - New York Fashion Week: The Shows

Frazer Harrison

Former Project Runway designer Michael Costello is accused of using artificial intelligence – or of allowing a photographer to use it – to edit a live model’s face on the runway. The alleged modification didn’t seem just to change the model’s features but also her ethnicity and race.

Several fans of the designer, fashion girlies, and industry insiders have questions. So do we.

MUST SEE: Raise Your Hands If You’ve Been Personally Victimized By Michael Costello

Shereen Wu, the Asian model in the pictures, has gone viral by exposing communication and messages with the designer after she questioned his motives. She seemingly reached out to him on Instagram and posted on TikTok and Twitter.

While the edits have not been confirmed, Costello’s reported response, reactions, and finger-pointing aren’t making sense. 

Who is Michael Costello?

Michael Costello is a 40-year-old designer from California. He rose to popularity in 2010 when featured on Project Runway Season 8. He also appeared on the spin-off show Project Runway All Stars.

Costello has been known for his feminine designs. While the public officially met the designer through reality TV, he owned a custom clothing store since the age of 15 and reportedly dressed celebrities such as Toni Braxton, Celine Dion, and Jennifer Lopez. 

56th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Press Room

Source: Dan MacMedan / Getty

Queen Beyonce gave Costello her stamp of approval in 2014, rocking a white lace gown to the Grammy’s. Recalling working with the Renaissance mogul, Costello told InStyle that he pulled out his “secret stash” after speaking to Ty Hunter about the direction for the look.

Costello also made headlines in 2019 after working with Cardi B on an instant Paris Fashion Week ensemble that went viral as soon as she wore it. His custom blue and multicolored peacock-inspired dress and wide-brimmed hat are still discussed (and honestly copied on many fast fashion sites).

So when did Michael Costello’s alleged whitewashing start?

While Costello is known for his aesthetic and elegant designs, his negative headlines are just as widespread. His industry reputation has been hanging like a thread.

In 2021, the designer found himself in the middle of multiple controversies such as alleged bullying from John Legend’s wife, Chrissy Teigen, separate sexual abuse claims, body shaming claims from Leona Lewis and former Real Housewives of Atlanta star Falynn Guobadia, and his own reports of “suicidal thoughts.”

Speed up to today’s viral controversy, we can’t keep up.

Shereen Wu walked in Costello’s October 22 Los Angeles Fashion Week show. She was one of a surprisingly diverse set of runway models, including Black, White, plus size, and Asian.

Los Angeles Fashion Week Powered by Art Hearts Fashion - Day 4

Source: Mark Gunter / Getty

According to Wu, Costello posted edited visuals of her in his stories following the show. She alleges that her face was seemingly changed from Asian to “Anglo-Saxon.” 

She reached out to him. Costello has denied changing the images or responsibility for perceived modification, according to the 21-year-old model. He has also reportedly deleted messages and conversations about the topics with the photographer and industry insiders.

See Shereen’s account below and let us know what you think. If true, Costello should be held accountable.

Representation in the fashion industry is a pervasive problem. And any instance of whitewashing, like what may be the case here, only perpetuates it.


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Did Project Runway Alum Michael Costello Use AI To Make A Model White?  was originally published on