Amid the hundreds of catwalk shows making up this year’s New York Fashion Week was one which, despite its somewhat down-at-heel location, has become the talk of the town.
Held on the rain-swept rooftop of an unremarkable East Village apartment block, all eyes were fixed, not so much on the models wearing outfits by emerging U.S. designer Shao Yang but, rather, on the 32-year-old woman hosting the event at her cramped, rented home, while sporting an electronic ankle tag.
Step forward Anna Sorokin, the notorious Russian fraudster who inspired last year’s hit Netflix series Inventing Anna and who, despite being under house arrest while facing deportation, has undergone an extraordinary transformation of late.
Gone are the demure, monotone court-room outfits and heavy spectacles she wore while on trial in 2019 for £245,000 of financial crimes after conning her way into New York’s art world.
In their place are glamorous designer clothes, sultry make-up and killer heels as the former jailbird attempts — to the horror of those she defrauded — to reinvent herself once more.
Anna Sorokin, who was was jailed in 2019 (pictured), has undergone an extraordinary transformation of late
Sorokin hosted a fashion event at her cramped, rented home, while sporting an electronic ankle tag
Anna Sorokin, under house arrest, co-hosted a New York Fashion Week runway show on her rooftop with clothing by fashion designer Shao Yang. Pictured: Anna Sorokin with Kelly Cutrone
Certainly, the convicted swindler, who posed as a German heiress with a multi-million-dollar trust fund to defraud others, is not short on her trademark chutzpah.
The ‘Danger Zone’ fashion show held above her Lower East Side apartment last month — as she exclusively revealed to the Mail last week — is just the latest in a string of high-profile media events and business ventures launched as she continues to fight for the right to remain in the U.S.
‘I definitely regret the choices I’ve made in the past,’ Sorokin said on the phone from the one-bedroom New York apartment where she is confined for 24 hours a day, apart from her weekly outing to see her parole officer at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Speaking in her instantly identifiable accent — a hotchpotch of U.S., German and Russian inflections mimicked by actress Julia Garner, who played her in Inventing Anna — she added: ‘I’m trying to make the best of it, staying busy, but there’s no straightforward path towards an ending.’
This week will mark exactly a year since Moscow-born Sorokin — in reality, the daughter of a Russian former lorry driver — was bailed for £8,000 from an ICE facility in Orange County, New York, and placed under house arrest.
She had previously been arrested in March 2021 for overstaying her visa just a month after being released from prison three years into a four-year sentence for multiple financial crimes.
While Sorokin, who still uses her ‘fake heiress’ name Anna Delvey, told the Mail last week that she ‘wouldn’t want to glorify my actions’, given the way she is using her notoriety to garner attention — and business opportunities — some might say that is exactly what she is doing.
Aside from her New York Fashion Week show, Sorokin, who is banned from using social media sites under the terms of her house arrest, has launched a podcast called The Anna Delvey Show, in which she discusses ‘preconceived notions of rule breakers’ and goes ‘beyond tired notions of what’s right and wrong’.
Fake heiress Anna ‘Delvey’ Sorokin was spotted taking out her trash in a full glam look in June
Aside from her New York Fashion Week show, Sorokin, who is banned from using social media sites under the terms of her house arrest, has launched a podcast called The Anna Delvey Show
In the podcast, she discusses ‘preconceived notions of rule breakers’ and goes ‘beyond tired notions of what’s right and wrong’
She has even performed vocals on the podcast’s title track ‘What the hell’ with TikTok celebrity and rising country star Brooke Butler.
Earlier this year Sorokin also signed up for a reality TV show called Delvey’s Dinner Club, featuring intimate dinners at her apartment with ‘celebrities, moguls and glitterati’.
The unscripted series will depict Sorokin chatting to ‘esteemed’ guests about her criminal past, while reflecting on her reputation as a con artist and her attempts to rehabilitate her image.
She says she hopes to persuade the likes of Madonna and Elon Musk to dine at what the press release described as ‘the hottest table in town’.
She is also set to make a new documentary series which will pick up where ‘Inventing Anna’ (for which she was a paid consultant) left off.
Then there’s the art show she is planning, featuring her own creations — a collection of 12 collages and drawings rather unimaginatively called House Arrest — with price tags of up to £18,000.
‘They’re about everything I’ve been through this past year and reflecting on my experience of being confined here,’ she says.
‘I’m not a claustrophobic person by nature, but when you’re on your own a lot and always in the same space, you’re always in your own head. I’d like to get out more because it would break up the day . . . clear my head.’
This week will mark exactly a year since Moscow-born Sorokin — in reality, the daughter of a Russian former lorry driver — was bailed for £8,000 from an ICE facility in Orange County, New York, and placed under house arrest. Pictured: Anna Sorokin appears in Manhattan Civil court in March
Anna Sorokin, wearing an ankle monitor, and her new lawyer appear in Manhattan Civil Court
While confined to her apartment over the past year, Sorokin has been keeping a ‘captivity’ diary which she hopes to publish.
And it’s worth mentioning her ‘Club House Arrest’ birthday party in January, invitations for which took the form of a mocked-up cover of the New York Post featuring a photograph of Delvey’s stiletto-clad feet, one of which was adorned with the ubiquitous electronic ankle tag.
Those honoured with an invitation were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements, with one guest later telling U.S. website Page Six: ‘The gimmick of going to Anna’s house is exciting right now,’ and adding: ‘The ankle monitor over the tights was chic.’
Before her fashion show venture, Sorokin joined forces with the legendary fashion PR Kelly Cutrone, a former judge on America’s Next Top Model.
Cutrone and Sorokin have now formed their own fashion PR company, the OutLaw Agency.
Their rooftop catwalk show, which saw 31 models traipse up six flights of stairs in a building without an elevator, was their first joint event.
Despite being unable to leave her apartment to attend any castings, Sorokin helped with the guest list and music, and choreographed the entire show.
Cutrone, who used to count the late British designer Vivienne Westwood among her clients, told the Mail she believes Sorokin has a bright future ahead of her — despite her past crimes.
‘I think she could easily build a $100 million business, an events empire or a fashion brand or real estate,’ says the 57-year-old.
Fake German heiress Anna Delvey returns from meeting her parole officer carrying a Wall Street Journal and dressed casual in jeans and Essentials sweatshirt with boots and her ankle monitor in January
‘She is super smart and intelligent. If she’d had better advice years ago, she could have stayed out of trouble, but she got in over her head because she was young and ambitious.’
Another who believes Sorokin has future money-spinning potential is ‘crisis PR’ guru Juda Engelmayer who has previously represented her, despite his eye-watering £27,000-a-month fee.
‘People are still interested in her,’ explains Engelmayer, who once also represented disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. ‘She’s still a sought-after commodity. A figure of curiosity. She’s got a great future ahead of her if she’s given another chance.
‘She has served her time for the trouble she caused. She’s remorseful. She was a kid when all this happened and she’s had a lot of time for self-reflection. Like everyone else in the world, she deserves a second chance.’
But not everyone believes Sorokin deserves a fresh start. For while Cutrone insists her new business partner has ‘made restitution’ and Sorokin herself told the Mail she had ‘paid everybody back in 2021 before I went to prison’, her victims beg to differ.
‘She certainly hasn’t paid me back,’ says Marc Kremers, the Paris-based founder of digital design studio, Future Corp. Sorokin swindled him out of £16,800 by pretending she was an ultra-rich heiress.
She hired Kremers to produce promotional material, including glossy brochures, which she could show to New York investment bankers. Her plan was to secure investment so she could realise her dream of opening a New York-based art gallery, the Anna Delvey Foundation.
Anna Sorokin, who claimed to be a German heiress, arrives for her trial at New York State Supreme Court in New York in April 2019
‘It’s frustrating to see the narrative being rewritten like this,’ says Kremers. ‘Her story is being made to look like the American Dream. What she did, the lies she told, isn’t glamorous and sexy. She is not a good person. If she was decent, she would pay back the money she owes. I have an 11-year-old child to support.’
Sorokin, who was born in Moscow in 1991, spent three years plundering New York society, dressing in expensive designer clothes, dining at fine restaurants and helping herself to what she wanted but couldn’t afford.
She left in her wake a trail of unpaid rent, hotel and credit card bills, bounced cheques, fake wire transfers and empty promises to the ‘friends’ and associates who had loaned her money.
They believed the apparently super-wealthy Anna Delvey, who boasted of having a £55 million trust fund but often claimed her credit card wasn’t working, would easily pay them back.
She was arrested in October 2017 after one of her victims, Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams, went to the police claiming she had been swindled out of £55,000, and assisted with a subsequent sting operation.
Sorokin, she said later, had ‘an enigmatic otherness that was strangely captivating’ and ‘steel blue eyes that fixed like a snake on anything she wanted’.
Judging by recent events, Sorokin certainly hasn’t lost her touch when it comes to casting her enigmatic spell over others.
Last week, Kelly Cutrone posted footage of Anna on her way back from the ICE office in Federal Plaza. Cutrone referred to her new business partner, who was sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘Natural Born Outlaw’ as a ‘f***ing icon’ and bragged that the pair were ‘taking pop culture back into our own hands’.
Exactly a decade on and, despite the turbulent events of recent years, there is still no sign of Sorokin’s imminent deportation. Pictured: Sorokin in court in April 2019
Sorokin, it’s clear, hopes to portray herself as some kind of modern-day freedom fighter rather than a cheat who defrauded her victims out of thousands. Her high-profile birthday party, for example, for which she hired a PR agency, was promoted as a fund-raiser for Access Justice Brooklyn, a charity providing pro-bono legal services to those in need.
As Marc Kremers puts it: ‘She’s cultivated this ‘Robin Hood’ vibe, as if she’s some kind of anti-hero. Her crime has paid off in a way. I would love to see her deported.’
Those now placing their trust in Sorokin may also come to regret their actions. As recently as March last year, Californian-based artist Julia Morrison said she had not been repaid after putting around £7,000 of her own money into staging a ‘Free Anna’ art show in New York, featuring sketches Anna had drawn while in her prison cell.
Morrison told the Mail last year: ‘When the organisers failed to pay me back, I got in contact with Anna in prison and asked her to intervene, but she showed no empathy whatsoever.
‘Anna thought the show happened because she’s a great artist, but I did a lot of the work to make it a success.
‘Eventually she ghosted me and blocked my messages . . . I invested in Anna and wanted to help her, but I don’t think she cares about anyone except herself.’
And although New York society is apparently at her well-shod feet once again, the future for Sorokin is still uncertain.
Her lawyer, John Sandweg, says she is appealing the conditions of her house arrest before the Board of Immigration Appeals, and her case remains under review with no new hearing scheduled.
‘We are optimistic that the Board will agree that no facts exist that justify Anna’s continued confinement,’ he told the Mail.
Her former PR manager, Juda Engelmayer, adds: ‘Emotionally she keeps her spirits up. She’s painting, reading and planning her podcast — she’s always thinking about the future. People visit her and bring a bottle of wine and groceries, but when she’s alone, I think she’s sad. It wears on her.’
The truth, of course, is that Sorokin is free to leave the U.S. whenever she pleases. There is nothing to stop her returning to Germany, where she grew up with her Russian family and still holds citizenship. But disappearing back into obscurity in Europe is the last thing on her mind.
Her father, Vadim Sorokin, who runs an underfloor heating firm, told German newspaper Bild this week that ‘the worst thing that could happen to her would be that she is deported back to Germany’.
Sorokin was born during the dying days of the Soviet Union. Her father has told the Mail that he moved his family to Germany for a better life, but encountered a culture of ‘mass consumption’.
In a bid to keep up, his daughter was given the best of everything — lessons in dance, French and English and, once she reached her teenage years, the designer clothes she coveted.
In 2012, aged 21, she found work as an intern at a fashion PR agency in the German capital and became captivated by the fashion world.
She moved to Paris, where she started using the name Anna Delvey before, in 2013, travelling to the U.S. on a three-month visa to attend New York Fashion Week . . . and never left.
Exactly a decade on and, despite the turbulent events of recent years, there is still no sign of Sorokin’s imminent deportation.
And, as galling as it may be to those whom she defrauded, she looks set to achieve what she wanted all along — to become very rich indeed.