The Real Housewives of New York City returned for Season 10 on Wednesday and the premiere didn't go without some controversy. Dorinda Medley hosted a themed Halloween party, where guests were supposed to dress up as someone famous, alive or dead. Well, Luann de Lesseps wore a Diana Ross costume and, as you can probably imagine, it caused quite the stir. Now, de Lesseps is apologizing for her controversial Halloween costume.
During Wednesday's Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, the Countess addressed her attire and swears she didn't mean to offend anyone, nor did she change her skin color.
"I'm horrified," she responded to the controversy. "I'm horrified, meaning I never meant to hurt anybody's feelings, because that was not, you know, I love Diana Ross and I totally respect Diana Ross, you know? It was really kind of a tribute to her, you know, and it was Halloween."
Host Andy Cohen made sure to point out to de Lesseps the major problem regarding her costume. "The issue is altering the color of your skin," he said. For anyone who watched the episode, it looked like de Lesseps may have darkened her skin tone to acquire the look of the famed singer. Of course, that would be extremely insensitive and disrespectful, but yet wearing blackface continues to be an issue with many people come Halloween.
But de Lesseps said altering the color of her skin would never even cross her mind. "I didn't," she said to Cohen about wearing blackface. "I had bronzer on, you know, that I wear normally, like the rest of my skin. I'm tan like right now. So, I didn't add anything to or would ever ever dream of doing a blackface — ever. So I'm very sorry to everyone out there if I offended anyone."
Cohen didn't stop there and told de Lesseps he also had a problem with her wig. "Well, actually, also my issue was Diana Ross very rarely wore an afro," he explained to her. "I mean, it was really about the long hair, but that's another story."
To that, the Housewife replied, "It was Halloween. I respect Diana Ross. I think she's fabulous and it really was my little tribute to her." She echoed a similar response and apology on Twitter Wednesday night. "I would like to clear the air, I love and respect Diana Ross, this was my tribute to her I was showing my sincere admiration," she posted. "I in no way altered my skin color and I did not mean to offend anyone."
During the premiere, the only other New York Housewife who said anything negative about de Lesseps' costume was Carole Radziwill. In her private interview, she couldn't believe the Countess would attempt to emulate Ross. She called de Lesseps "tone deaf" when it comes to other cultures — and "tone deaf" in general. This wasn't the first time Radziwill called out de Lesseps for what she considered insensitivity.
Bethenny Frankel walked into the party praising Lu's costume. As she live tweeted the episode, Bethenny responded to the negative feedback by writing, "I was literally with her partying til 3 am & never noticed. @DorindaMedley came over the next week & told me. Now watching I noticed. I was buzzed."
Many fans are, understandably, upset with Lu's costume choice. As one fan tweeted, "Bronzer blackface is still blackface, Luann. Not a good look." Another person posted, "'Luann isn't in blackface, it's just a lot of bronzer' Ummmm yeah, the bronzer she used to paint herself to look like a black woman. It's blackface y'all."
However, there are others trying to explain why it looks like Luann is wearing blackface. "I don't think Luann was in blackface," one Twitter user wrote. "I think she had a spray tan that was emphasized by the shadow of the gigantic afro wig." Another person tried to look at the costume from all sides by posting: "I thought it was a great costume, I agree with @Andy on Diana usually had longer hair. I think Luann looked lighter/darker depending on the lighting, I didn’t think it was black face but perception is up to the beholder."
It definitely was a problematic costume choice. Maybe next time Luann will go with her first thought and dress up as herself.