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Was Louis Pisano, the fashion influencer who spread Rihanna & A$AP Rocky misinformation a victim of a take down?

Pisano was living the dream. Until he fumbled the bag by spreading misinformation about two fashion darlings- Rihanna and A$AP Rocky. PICTURE: Instagram

Pisano was living the dream. Until he fumbled the bag by spreading misinformation about two fashion darlings- Rihanna and A$AP Rocky. PICTURE: Instagram

Published Apr 23, 2022

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There’s an art to doing a take down. I gather that in order to successfully do one, there’s a lot of planning that goes into it. You have to mirror how your target thinks and does things. You learn their habits, what they react to, how they speak and what they find interesting. I believe it is months of work that will only give you satisfaction for a few hours after the take down has happened. Unless, of course, that take down is so epic, it makes global headlines.

This might sound like a voice-over of Gossip Girl, but it’s not. It’s about the fall of one Louis Pisano, who went from being a celebrated fashion writer and influencer to persona non-grata after sharing a lie so egregious, even people who did not know they existed now do and wish they didn’t. (Pisano identifies as non-binary, and prefers to use they-them pronouns.)

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The lie? Well, they broke the “news that” Rihanna had dumped A$AP Rocky because she caught him cheating on her with celebrity shoe designer Amina Muaddi.

Pisano tweeted: “Rihanna & A$AP Rocky have split. Rihanna broke up with him after she caught him cheating with shoe designer Amina Muaddi”. It sent shock waves through the pop culture realm. Then came the details. According to Pisano, it had happened during Paris Fashion Week, probably during Rihanna’s shoot with Vogue magazine.

Pisano went on to tweet that Rihanna and A$AP Rocky were spotted having an argument during dinner at Craig’s, a restaurant in Los Angeles – a rumour which was also shared by the controversial Instagram gossip page, DeuxMoi.

When Pisano was questioned about their sources, they proudly tweeted that they were in the upper echelons of the fashion industry in Europe, which is something they believed would add credence to their claims.

Well, it blew up in their face, especially after Muaddi released a statement the next day: “I initially assumed that this fake gossip – fabricated with such malicious intent – would not be taken seriously. However, in the last 24hours, I’ve been reminded that we live in a society that is so quick to speak on topics regardless of factual basis and that nothing is off-limits.”

Trusted celebrity news sites TMZ and Page Six also independently confirmed that Rihanna and A$AP Rocky were still together, which was further confirmed when they jetted into Barbados last Friday and spent the weekend together with the heavily pregnant Rihanna’s family. (The rapper, however was arrested when he landed in the US from Barbados on Wednesday in connection with a shooting that took place last year. He is out on $550 000 bail – about R8.3 million.)

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And then came the apology from Pisano: “So I’d like to formally apologise to all parties I involved with my actions and for my reckless tweets. I fully accept the consequences of my actions for my tweets and any harm they caused.

“I have no excuse for it, I’ve been way too wrapped up in Twitter drama and unfortunately leaned into being messy as a brand which is something going forward I’m going to move away from …”

It was a swift downfall. With just a couple of tweets, Pisano lost all the goodwill and clout they had worked so hard to get. Pisano’s fans started turning on them, as well as the internet, and the Rihanna Navy was baying for blood.

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But it was too clean. Had Pisano been baited? Was this the perfect take down? Or was Pisano just too overzealous and messy, doing anything they could to achieve infamy?

An interesting Instagram story appeared shortly after their apology from a former friend Yoanne Mobengo, a stylist who has worked for Vogue Netherlands. It was a video from Gossip Girl, where Penelope tells Blair Waldorf to consider herself dethroned. He then also shared a popular clip from Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, where cast member Karlie Redd shows off a polygraph test accusing a castmate, Pooh Hicks, of lying. It was telling. Both were moments of a reckoning happening, of a person being taken down a notch because they had delusions of grandeur.

This was surprising as a few months ago, Mobengo and Pisano were doing social media content together, virtually inseparable and partying up a storm at exclusive parties in Paris. Pisano has since gone quiet on social media, and none of their other friends has been sharing content, possibly fearing being linked to Pisano.

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It’s a long way to fall for the 31-year-old fashion writer who left the US in their twenties to try to conquer the fashion capitals, Milan and then Paris. Was it all for nought?

There’s a lot of work that goes into being a fame-adjacent fashion writer today. While Robin Givhan, Suzy Menkes, Andre Leon Talley, Tim Blanks and Cathy Horyn all relied on their wits and the gift of being able to interpret fashion collections and write Pulitzer Prize-worthy articles, today it’s all about being loud and noticeable.

Journalists compete with influencers, are forced to sidle up to brands (thanks to the publishing world needing brands for advertising due to plummeting subscription numbers), and they find themselves becoming influencers (or commentators.) While the traditional method of fashion writing still has an audience, the media are targeting younger readers, hence, having to find new ways of presenting fashion analysis – enter Louis Pisano and their peers.

Pisano was living the dream. Actively straddling both journalism and influencing, Pisano is one of the few fashion writers who gets written about in other glossy magazines, has a healthy following on social media and has built their brand such that their followers follow them to wherever they write at that moment. And brands love to tap into that – an engaged audience.

However, Pisano is also, as said in the apology tweet, “messy”. They have made their “brand” all about calling out the fashion industry for its various sins, including racism, body-shaming, misogyny and queerphobia.

During the Black Lives Matter protests in the US in 2020, which led to the great media industry reckoning, Pisano was one of the loudest voices and an advocate for diversity in the fashion industry.

Pisano became a noted voice, one the younger fashionistas could turn to

to talk about injustices in the industry, but also a champion of younger designers. Brands sent them their limited edition items while also inviting them to shows and exclusive parties. And as that happened, Pisano slowly moved up the ladder, and wasn’t as vocal about the injustices in the industry.

Late last year, Pisano courted controversy when they alleged that designer Daniel Lee was fired from the luxury brand Bottega Veneta for calling someone the n-word at a meeting on company premises. Pisano took to Twitter to share the information they claimed was from a reliable source who was close to the matter. However, this was refuted by the Kering group, which owns the brand.

While that rumour went away and Pisano’s career survived it, there’s little hope that they will be accepted in the fashion industry’s inner sanctum again.

As Rihanna and A$AP Rocky jetted into Barbados a few days after the tweets, looking the very picture of love, it must have hurt for Pisano to see that and not have a thing to say about it. It’s ironic, especially as they thrived on mess and drama, as stated in their interview with Interview Magazine:

“(I) check my phone to make sure I’m not starting the day off in some drama (that I probably caused online).”

And the question? “What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?”

And now his career is at risk, because he was so invested in drama.

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