UK news The Vogue Grifter: A strange tale of a young Dublin woman, fashion icon Grace Coddington, and a high profile court case last news
MetiNews.Com - Yvonne Bannigan folds her arms over her designer blouse and wistfully looks off to one side, like a Renaissance martyr. Flashbulbs track her every step into Manhattan's criminal court. When she pleads guilty to one count of grand larceny, and is sentenced to three years' probation in addition to the community service she has already served, the case makes headlines around the world.
Breaking News ! "Yvonne Bannigan folds her arms over her designer blouse and wistfully looks off to one side, like a Renaissance martyr. Flashbulbs track her every step into Manhattan's criminal court. When she pleads guilty to one count of grand larceny, and is sentenced to three years' probation in addition to the community service she has already served, the case makes headlines around the world. One publication calls her the 'Irish Vogue grifter'. Another says she looked like she was auditioning for a reboot of Gossip Girl. She is described as a cautionary tale.And yet she is also, with each outfit change and careful pout, one of the stars of the season, a cover girl - for all the wrong reasons. It was already being called The Summer of Scam in New York. In the months before Bannigan's case came up, Anna Delvey, the so-called "fake heiress", had turned the corridors of the Manhattan criminal court into a sort of catwalk, as she stylishly defended herself in a case that was part Sex and the City, part Catch Me If You Can. And another mystery woman, dubbed "Hollywood's con queen", had resurfaced and was impersonating Wendi Murdoch to swindle people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars; the FBI were investigating.But neither captured the public's imagination quite as much as Bannigan. Perhaps it was that while Delvey did have a sort of glamorous grifter aura, Bannigan was wholesome: she was young, apple-cheeked and Irish. And she had so much more to lose. The dream job for one thing.She had been an assistant at Vogue, and had gone on to work for the high priestess of fashion, Grace Coddington.It was a bit like the Devil Wears Prada - except that Coddington, aside from being an industry visionary, was, by many accounts, quite a bit warmer than Meryl Streep's character inspired by Anna Wintour.The flame-haired maven had a reputation for mentoring young women. Her former assistants, Vogue once noted, described her as "less a boss than older sister, life compass, and brilliant collaborator rolled in one". She didn't seem like the kind of person who would accuse someone of theft to the value of just over $53,000 without cause. We may never know for sure why it started, but you could guess. For a young woman surrounded by luxury but unable to afford much of it, the temptation must have been great. For while the movies sell the image of loft apartments and designer freebies, the reality is a lot different. "You always have to give the stuff back," one former Conde Nast underling explains - through gritted teeth - and the average monthly salary of an actual assistant in Manhattan would hardly cover a few brunches at Balthazar.And even that comes after years of scrabbling and striving to make it in a field made hyper-competitive by, among other things, decades of movie mythology. Bannigan had already worked a number of lowly positions in the New York fashion world before she entered Coddington's orbit. She may have felt she was entitled to some of the glittering trappings of the world in which she moved. Not many Irish girls have found work at Vogue. In the 1980s, Orla Healy became assistant to Anna Wintour and used that as a springboard to become managing editor (features) at the Daily News - the iconic tabloid on which Superman's Daily Planet was based. But Healy at least had a background in journalism; she had worked at the Sunday Independent before going to New York.Bannigan grew up one of three children in Dublin. Her mother was a make-up artist, her father ran a library-supply business. In 2013 the then 20-year-old Bannigan arrived in New York and scored an internship in the public relations department at Zac Posen. She took courses at Parsons, the prestigious design school in Greenwich Village, and worked as a greeter in Abercrombie & Fitch's Fifth Avenue flagship store. Soon after that, she became an intern at Elle. If she moved fast, it might have been because she seemed so at home in this world. She was beautiful - she had the look of a young Faye Dunaway, the London Times later noted - stylish and personable, and she emitted just the kind of glamour that glossy magazines look for in their hires.In February 2015, Bannigan arrived at the fashion mecca of Vogue as an assistant in the fashion and accessories department under Coddington. This was a major step up for the young Dublin woman.Coddington is an industry legend, a former model who has created some of the most dramatic photoshoots in the magazine's history. Like Bannigan, she was an immigrant, who transcended a small town upbringing in rural Wales to become one of the most respected figures in global fashion. She's been at Vogue since 1988 but remained largely unknown to everyone but fashion geeks until 2009. That year a documentary team began filming a behind-the-scenes look at the magazine, which would be called The September Issue. Their star was not, as expected, Anna Wintour - but a pale and slightly irritable redhead who stole the show. Coddington was soon recast in the popular imagination as the real power behind the throne and this gave her the clout to decide her retirement from the magazine on her own terms. When she left her full-time post at Vogue for an at-large position at the magazine, Bannigan soon followed.By the spring of the following year, she was working for Coddington's own company. Just a few months later, the stealing began, and it continued for two years until Coddington filed a complaint in early 2018.According to the editor, who was described as "Informant 1" in court papers, Bannigan's unauthorised charges totalled $53,564. In addition to this, Bannigan was alleged to have sold some of Coddington's property on an online consignment store called TheRealReal. She was also accused of keeping $9,000 in commission for herself. Coddington's genius has always been giving an artistic sheen to a commercial vision. Her dark and shimmering photo shoots never forget their job is to sell expensive handbags, perfumes and clothes. Her own collaboration with Louis Vuitton retails for around €1,500 - unattainable for most young women.
. She had, a couple of years previously, signed a book deal thought to be worth $1.2m. She spent her money on things like a psychic for her cat. Her Long Island home was written about in Architectural Digest and its walls were lined with photographs by friends and collaborators such as Helmut Newton and Bruce Weber.Bannigan, by contrast, shared a two-bedroom apartment in the East Village where the rents have long since soared past the point where an assistant could comfortably afford them (a two-bed goes for around $2,500 a month).In an interview with the Irish Independent in 2016, she talked up her new life. She'd recently found herself sitting at a table with the popstar Rihanna, she explained. She was looking forward to the new shows by Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang. And even if it made her sound like a diva, she always started the week with a facial. The icing on the cake came when she appeared in the pages of Teen Vogue, in a piece that lauded Coddington as a boss. Behind the scenes there was trouble brewing, however. Shortly after the investigation began, Bannigan's lawyer, Michael Cornacchia, told the Sunday Independent that his client was "puzzled" by the charges, given that she had "nursed" Coddington through two surgeries and a stroke.He continued: "Never, ever during these two years did Coddington, who checked her credit card statements and kept track of her possessions, complain to Yvonne or anyone else about Yvonne's conduct or any misuse of credit cards or misappropriation of any of her property," he claimed."In fact, Yvonne was the one who suggested that Coddington go to the police to report the questioned charges and Coddington went to the police the next day with Yvonne's encouragement."By then, little people hoodwinking stars had become one of the biggest themes of the summer. Rolling Stone had run a piece about a precocious teen who posed as a wealthy heir and explorer. The Fyre documentary, which told the chaotic story of a celebrity festival that never was, had become one of the biggest TV hits of the year. A Northern Irish artist, Larissa Watson, who was born in Canterbury but spent most of her life in NI and opened a boutique in Belfast under her lifestyle and fashion brand Goddess and Swift, became known as The Portofino Pirate after she tried to steal a yacht in Italy.Then the case of Anna Delvey was called "the grift that kept on giving". Delvey, whose real name is Anna Sorokin, managed to convince Manhattan's elite that she was a wealthy socialite. People believed she was a millionaire German heiress and aspiring businesswoman, looking to build a cultural centre - a space for wealthy young artists to create, socialise and party. Eventually it turned out that she was really the daughter of a Russian truck driver and had scammed a photo editor at Vanity Fair, Rachel DeLoache Williams, into spending thousands of dollars of her own money on a Kardashian-level lavish trip to a Moroccan souk.In a bizarre twist, Delvey lived rent-free at the Magnises townhouse in New York of fellow fraudster, Fyre Festival promoter Billy McFarland, for four months. Two five-star New York hotels, Beekman and the W, pressed charges related to unpaid bills and a further investigation found she had allegedly deposited hundreds of thousands of dollars of bad checks and forged bank statements in a quest for a $66m loan.Every new story seemed to throw up its own mesmerising anti-hero and Vogue's glossy rivals reviewed how to get the "scammer chic" look - mostly eyeliner and insouciance.It was a guilty pleasure with a woke justification. Marie Claire noted that "Rooting for a crook whose crimes include scamming the rich can be seen as a winking protest of the status quo; a way for Americans to nod at glaring societal unfairness in a way that's a little more nuanced than just eat the rich," adding, "Also, scammers get their designation because, somewhere along the line, they get busted, which makes cheering them on a little less guilt-inducing."Part of the thrill of scam-watching was imagining how the chastened scammers would style out their penance. How would Anna Delvey get her designer duds delivered to Rikers Island? How would Bannigan get the lighting right for her community service selfie?Despite the paparazzi treatment she received as she left court, there were never any pictures of the Dublin woman doing her 15 days' community service - and in the months after her conviction, her Instagram page did not record them. Instead it focused on the highlights from her brief and star-crossed career in fashion.One post made a few months before her sentencing shows her relaxing on a sofa in Paris on a trip which she likely made with Coddington."A little fashion pup at the Chanel Atelier in Paris, ahead of our campaign shoot with Patrick Demarchelier - pure magic. #karl," it was captioned, in reference to the recently deceased Karl Lagerfeld. Another picture showed Coddington in front of a window at Harrods in London. Another showed Bannigan and friends in fancy dress at a V Magazine Halloween party. A third depicted a signed copy of Coddington's memoir Grace: 30 Years at Vogue. Somewhat incredibly, the inscription reads: 'For Yvonne, with love, Grace Coddington'.And yet the formerly warm relationship is not so hard to fathom - if you speak to those who knew Yvonne."She was actually a sweet girl," one former colleague of Bannigan tells me. "She was always on time, she went out of her way for others. She was very professional and charming and l'm not surprised Grace warmed to her. When you're around all this wealth, it's easy to feel you're entitled to some of it. Things must have gotten out of hand somehow. I don't know why she chose to fight it. She might not have known just how much publicity the case would generate." In the end, she is hardly the first person to fiddle their work expenses but the context ensured that it would not soon be forgotten. As a naturalised US citizen with no prior criminal record, Bannigan would have been entitled to stay in the US after her conviction. She was reported to be looking for a job in hospitality but the internet, with its guarantee of everlasting notoriety, might make that difficult. Bannigan's social media is a wall of privacy but she has perhaps not given up on her dream of making it in the Big Apple."New York is always hopeful", she wrote in another internet post.And fashion does love a comeback story."
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