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“Does this dress justify me?” Does the appearance of the accused in court play a role

Reflections of the main critic of the fashion The New York Times on the background of the case against the big fraudster Anna Sorokina.


Anna Sorokina in the courtroom Photo by AP

On April 25, in the United States, Anna Sorokina, a fraudster from Russia, who had lived under the assumed name Anna Delvi for several years and stole at least $ 200,000 from her friends and a bank , was found guilty. The story of Sorokina attracted world interest: Netflix announced plans to make a film based on her life, and the trial of her quickly turned into a reality show.

Like the heroes of any show, Sorokina had his own stylist. He picked up her outfits for the process, which then fell into a separate account on Instagram for the “judicial clothing” of the fraudster. But such an appearance is not a unique method by Sorokina, but a long tradition of American stars. Vanessa Friedman, chief fashion critic of The New York Times, reflects on the significance of this method in the fight for attention in the courtroom .

At the court hearing on April 24 Sorokina came in a white dress just above the knee with a V-neck, a choker and loose hair. The next day, when she was found guilty, she met the news in the Supreme Court in a light black dress with hair gathered at the back of her head. During the trial, she changed many outfits, each of which was selected with taste and knowledge of sense.

A large role in this was played by the professional team of lawyers of the girl who, shortly before the jury trial, began to plan her appearance. The lawyer feared that the standard prison clothes on the girl would make her look guilty and make it impossible to turn the case to her side. As planned, Sorokina was supposed to appear in the courtroom in high heels, but the authorities did not allow this, considering that the studs could be used as a weapon.

For the appearance of the girl is a stylist Anastasia Walker , who works with actress Courtney Love, performers of T-Pain and G-Eazy. She used clothes from high fashion houses, including Saint Laurent, Wolford and Chloé.

At first glance, it seems that the clothing of the accused in the courtroom does not matter, but it is not. A former Donald Trump adviser by the name of Roger Stone, accused of violating the prohibition on non-disclosure of information, spoke directly about the importance of the appearance on the processes.

Roger Stone Tutorial on How to Dress in the Courtroom

According to fashion critic Vanessa Friedman, Sorokina is just one of the “models” of court shows in the United States. In parallel with her business, the attention of the press is concentrated on the founder of Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes, who, thanks to her appearance and the gift of persuasion, has been deceiving investors for years for her unrealizable project.

During the ascent of her company, she almost always appeared in public in a black turtleneck, copying the image of Steve Jobs, but on fresh frames she is dressed in a light gray trouser suit and a light blue shirt with a white collar. “She has changed! Literally. Passed from the dark side to the light side, ”Fridman mocks.


Getty Photos

Another example is with rap singer Cardi Bee, who arrived in court in a case involving a fight in a long white sleeveless dress and wide trousers with smoothed hair. At the same time in her clips she uses an aggressive and defiant image.

But such a strategy has miscalculations. As the New York Post wrote , Sorokina refused to attend the trial one day because she didn’t like the outfit chosen for her. In response, the judge ordered the girl to appear, noting that she was too worried about her appearance. The appearance of the girl really was one of her main methods of manipulation. As GQ wrote , still at large, Sorokin, born in the Moscow region in the year of the collapse of the USSR, created the image of a rich and prosperous girl for herself in the USA.

Reflecting on the attempt of Russians to manipulate the court, Friedman recalls that American stars have long enjoyed this. In 2002, actress Winona Ryder came to the court in a shoplifting case in a “conservative but chic outfit,” as described in The New York Times.


Winona Ryder goes to court, 2002 Getty photo

In 2004, businesswoman Martha Stewart appeared at the trial on charges of fraud with a ladies’ bag brand Hermès, the cost of which varies from six to 80 thousand dollars. Friedman believes that this is how a woman wanted to convince those who gathered in her reputation and financial well-being. But people saw this as further evidence of Stuart’s “harmful” wealth. In prison, she served five months.

Although Sorokin was found guilty, in a sense, her changing appearance in the courtroom played a role. In the GQ material, entitled “ The trial was Anna Sorokina’s last opportunity to play dressing up, ” author Rachel Tashdzhian indicates that the girl has a support group. “I am shocked by the number of people who praised Sorokin for her style like the secular Robin Hood.” The last remark is especially true – supporters and sympathizers of the girl justify her actions by the fact that she stole from the rich, and not from the poor.

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April 8th, 2019: HM Sweater, Uniqlo Pant

A post shared by AnnaDelveyCourtLooks (@annadelveycourtlooks) on

It is also indicative of the appearance in Instagram of a fan account dedicated to theoutfits that Sorokina wore in the courtroom. A little over six thousand people have signed up for the profile, and photographs on average recruit dozens of approving comments. So far, this way of fixing “judicial outfits” in social networks is only emerging, but most likely it will not end on Sorokina alone.

In each of these cases, the defendants underwent some changes in front of the courtroom, using various femininity archetypes associated with mythological images of innocence, youth, purity, diligence, good manners, respect for the court and an understanding of the seriousness of the situation. […]

The bottom line is to counteract with a visual image any picture that is created about a person: “How can someone who looks like this do something like that?”

Vanessa Friedman fashion chief critic at The New York Times

On May 9, Sorokina will be sentenced; she faces up to 15 years in prison.

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