An individual going by the name Arnaud Henry Mensan has defrauded a handful of celebrated fashion brands, stealing thousands of dollars of designer garments and accessories, according to London-based publication, Dazed. As demonstrated by his Instagram bio, Mensan holds himself out as an editor of Dazed Media, and a fashion editor for Vogue, W magazine, Nylon, and Numero, among others, as well as a member of Business of Fashion’s annual BoF 500 list. In reality, he is not - and has never been - affiliated with any of those publications.
In order to woo designers into "lending" him their coveted garments and accessories, Mensan established a detailed guise, including an elaborate Instagram page, which served as his sole calling card/resume; a nod to the level of power that the social media app wields in the fashion industry. As i-D detailed last year, designer Martin Across - one the Mensan's victims - "looked for him on social networks and confirmed that he had more than 40,000 followers on Instagram" before he sent the garments that Mensan had requested.
Complete with hundreds of photos of "his" styling and photography work, the captions accompanying Mensan's photos included mentions of his seemingly legitimate partners. The inclusion of specific brands and publications, including @HeroMagazine, @numero, @schiaparelli, and @eliesaab, among others, gave a sense of legitimacy to his claims. Upon further inspection, though, it becomes clear that these are little more than imitation, inactive, and/or unregistered accounts. Meticulously curated, these accounts - legitimate at a glance - almost certainly went undetected by the untrained or the trained-but-busy eye.
In connection with one photo, Mensan claimed to have styled an editorial for Hero magazine's May issue. He includes a photo and his caption includes the @HeroMagazine handle. The magazine's actual account is @HeroMag. Mensan did this with Numero magazine, as well, tagging @Numero - an inactive account - as opposed to the magazine's official Instagram account, @NumeroMagazine. The same can be said of Elie Saab, whose official handle is not @eliesaab but @eliesaabworld and of Schiaparelli, which maintains a verified account with the handle @elsaschiaparelli not @schiaparelli.
As for the photos that appeared on Mensan's Instagram account, none were actually shot or styled by him. For instance, one photo (pictured below) bears the caption, "So happy that I was chosen to imagine and shoot the next campaign for @schiaparelli Couture. Find those in magazines worlwide starting next month issues. Thanks [Schiaparelli ambassador] @faridakelfa for the trust and love." The photo at issue was not taken Mensan, but by Baldovino Barani for Odda Magazine in 2013.
According to Dazed, Mensan has reached out to both emerging and well established labels to ask for pieces that he claimed would be featured in Elle, Bullet, I-D, AnOther and Dazed. “Representatives for Berluti reached out to Dazed to detail how Mensan had reached out to their Paris office, claiming he was planning photoshoots in Japan. He told the brand that the editorials were for AnOther and Dazed, as well as ‘soon to be relaunched’ Dazed Japan. None of these shoots were ever scheduled to take place, and Mensan is in no way affiliated with Dazed and AnOther.” Berluti ultimately lent Mensan upwards of $10,000 in garments, which he never returned.
A bit of research reveals that this was hardly Mensan’s first offense. In April 2015, American designer, Bradley Jordan, who lent garments to Mensan in 2014, filed a ripoffreport.com complaint stating: “Arnaud, reached out to me and wanted to include my pieces in a few editorials for Elle France, Elle Korea, Elle Japan, Bullet Magazine, AnOther Man and AnOther Magazine ... When the shoots were completed there wasn't any contact for a month or so.”
The complaint continues: “I inquired about the return of my merchandise in February 2015, and Arnaud assured me that the items were safe and would be shipped within the week ... Additional weeks passed and at the end of April, I finally received a tracking number, but it did not work and there is no record of a package. I still don't have the pieces or images proving that they were used in any of these major fashion publications.”
Additionally, designer Martin Across spoke out to i-D's French site last May, stating that Mensan contacted him in February 2015 to ask for five looks from his latest collection to photograph them. Per i-D: "Moved by the possibility of seeing his garments in prestigious publications of the industry, Across sent the looks in question." Thereafter, he was unable to get in touch with Mensan and the garments were never returned to him.
Of the publications with which Mensan is allegedly associated, those that have released statements have all vehemently denied any affiliation. Vestoj's founder and editor-in-chief, Anja Aronowsky Cronberg, for instance, told TFL that she had "never heard of him until now."
She continued, "It's funny, though the fashion industry spans continents and we all hide behind screens when communicating, we still operate largely on a code of honor. We believe that people are who they say they are, and are surprised and outraged when they're not. Thinking about it, it's not surprising that some have realized how easy it is to take advantage of the good will of others - instead it's remarkable that it doesn't happen more often."
According to Dazed, Berlutti is working with the relevant French authorities to investigate Mensan, who has - as of Tuesday afternoon - deleted his Instagram, thereby leaving behind little more than a Facebook page, a cautionary tale for design brands both emerging and established, and an array of cached imagery that was never his to begin with.