Prominent Valley designer Michael Costello is speaking out, after claiming he and his staff were “disrespected,” “threatened,” and “verbally assaulted” at Fashion Week El Paseo by the event’s head of security. He told News Channel 3’s Peter Daut he will no longer be involved with the annual event.
The Emmy-Award winner and “Project Runway” alum had been a regular at Fashion Week El Paseo since 2011.
Though he smiled on the runway Sunday at his fashion show, behind-the-scenes he said things were anything but glamorous.
“I really didn’t like the way that it happened. It was so uncalled for. It was so uncalled for, and someone needs to be held accountable for this,” Costello told Daut.
CHECK OUT THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH COSTELLO
Costello posted his outrage on social media, saying he was “verbally abused, discriminated against and disrespected by the head of security, who introduced herself as Tina.”
“So what exactly happened?” Daut asked Costello. He replied: “She belittled every member of my staff, and she said things that were just inappropriate and condescending and treated everyone with disrespect, and made it very impossible for all of us to do our job to deliver a beautiful show.”
Costello said no one from Fashion Week will give him Tina’s last name, since he wants her to apologize. He also said during the event, one of her security guards blocked him from going backstage.
“The security guard held me there by the hand, even though my face was on every single pamphlet and brochure, he still didn’t believe that I was cleared because I didn’t have a wrist band,” he said. “This is 12 years of me doing the show, and the first time a security guard had to give me a very hard time to get into my own show and then clear it with Tina, and then Tina comes and gives us more of a hard time.”
Daut asked Costello: “In your social media post, you used the words ‘abused,’ ‘threatened,’ ‘bullying,’ ‘discrimination’ and ‘assault.’ Did Tina really do all those things?” Costello answered: “Yes she did. Not only did she call me a few words that were inappropriate, and said multiple things that were inappropriate, but she threatened my brother’s wife. And not only was my brother’s wife there, but her son was there, my brother’s stepson was there, and two members of our staff.”
Fashion Week El Paseo’s Marketing Director, Paulina Larson, sent News Channel 3 a statement: “We are saddened to hear of the events that took place during The Michael Costello Show, Sunday, March 19, during the designer’s 12th appearance on the Fashion Week El Paseo runway. Costello has been a returning supporter of Fashion Week year after year. To learn that he — or anyone, be it those working tirelessly behind the scenes to make each show a success, our gracious volunteers and vendors, or those in attendance — faced any kind of uncomfortable situation at our event is not acceptable. The individual managing the incident was subcontracted. Their actions and words are not representative of Fashion Week El Paseo. We celebrate all those who participate in Fashion Week; and we value those who speak up to ensure improper actions are addressed and eliminated, maintaining a safe, comfortable, and fun environment for all.”
Costello said as a result of what happened, he did not feel safe leaving his gowns and pieces at the venue, and abruptly canceled a scheduled trunk show. He also said he will no longer be involved with Fashion Week.
Daut asked him: “Is there any way you would return to Fashion Week?” Costello replied: “If someone makes sure that Tina has absolutely nothing to do with it, whether she’s an independent contractor or not, then I’d consider it.” He added: “I’m donating a lot of my time; it’s costing me money out of my own pocket just to have one fabulous, fantastic night. And to have this woman come in and treat every single member of my staff, and when I say every single member, I mean all 12 of us that were there, all had different run-ins with Tina. It’s just really, really super important to be kind to one another. That message can’t be more important to me than anything else.”
Costello wants to make it clear that what happened with the head of security is in no way a reflection on the hard-working and dedicated team behind Fashion Week El Paseo. He said he will always be grateful to them for the last 12 years, and for the support he has received from his fans and the community.