Welcome to our column, "Hey, Quick Question," where we investigate seemingly random happenings in the fashion and beauty industries.
It seems like almost yesterday that Anna Delvey first came onto our radar — and not for good reasons.
As we're now well aware, the story of Delvey-slash-Sorokin first went viral in a 2018 The Cut article by Jessica Pressler. The riveting exposé detailed how the then-27-year-old, posing as a German heiress, had scammed her way into the likes of Manhattan's elites, cozying up in the most coveted boutique hotels, coasting in private jets and, more often than not, swindling bankers and nearby acquaintances out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The catch was that Delvey convinced those in her circle that she was worth millions.
As a consequence of her schemes, the faux "nepo baby" was arrested in 2017. After a month-long trial in 2019, she was found guilty of four counts of theft of services, three counts of grand larceny and one count of attempted grand larceny.
Though she spent time in New York's correctional facilities, Delvey kept herself relevant. Over the past four years, she's been featured in a number of articles and interviewed by celebrities like Paris Hilton and Julia Fox. She released an art collection filled with pencil sketches and NFTs. Then, there was Shonda Rhimes' Netflix dramatization of her story, "Inventing Anna," which became one of the platform's record-breaking series.
After a couple of years behind bars — at Rikers, in state prison, then in ICE detention — Delvey was released in October, and settled into her reportedly-$4,000-a-month Manhattan abode. She also wasted no time in re-entering fashion's radar as some sort of must-watch "It" girl.
In the nearly two months since her release, the now-31-year-old has been photographed, profiled and written about by a number of outlets. Delvey's first night on house arrest was documented by the New York Times. Variety interviewed her in her East Village apartment. She's done original photoshoots for the Evening Standard and, most recently, The Cut. All the while, she's amassed even more of a following: 1.1 million followers on Instagram, 35,000 on Twitter, 195.7 million views on TikTok.
She's also hired a publicist. We know this because, not long after her release, a representative for Delvey reached out to Fashionista, saying that their client "is open for interview opportunities and photo shoots at her apartment in the East Village, NY."
I'm sorry, excuse me?
Fashionista might've ignored the request, but it seems like a slew of legacy publications didn't, instead jumping at the opportunity to get the scammer-turned-celeb to talk. It does make me wonder if this was literally anyone else, would they also be getting glossy covers and exclusive features? (We know the answer to this one: Probably not!)
An obvious factor in this redemption arc is that Delvey is a white woman. Fashion has long been obsessed with the aesthetics of a white women in mascara-smeared mugshots, glam-ified ankle monitors and post-jail sightings, fueled by tabloids circa 2007. Some have even cashed it out, whether through DIY-printed T-shirts or Yandy's sold-out Delvey-inspired "Coin-Heiress" Halloween costume.
The sensationalization and glamorization of white people's incarceration is a far different tale than what befalls people of color in similar positions.
In its profile of Delvey, the Evening Standard writes that she's "controversial, chaotic and – on swapping prison for home arrest in a cushy East Village apartment – increasingly chic." Harper's Bazaar UK, meanwhile, interviews her about her "comeback." The Cut's recent spread follows her out on parole, dressed in head-to-toe designer.
All of these glossy features just beg the question: Why? Why give this person this kind of attention? Why engage?
Are the clicks worth it?