Re-Inventing Anna with a Scam of a Review

Re-Inventing Anna with a Scam of a Review

It’s a style spa, this series. Watch it also for a reminder that expensive fashion is a top rated deceiving tool for duping people into believing who you are not 

If a story is about elaborate deceit, dressed up for OTT dazzle and grip, based on journalistic reportage sparkling with several ethical loopholes and runs a tagline “The Whole Story is Completely True, Except for the Parts That Are Totally Made Up”, will a sham of a review do? We are all scamming something, someone at some point in our lives, aren’t we? Or so the lawyer (Todd Spodek played by Arian Moayed) defending Anna Delvey, aka Sorokin, the fake German heiress who served time for duping rich New York socialites and bankers, is heard saying in the recent Netflix series Inventing Anna. Released this February, the mini-series created by Shonda Rhimes is still on Netflix’s Top Ten in India. No surprises here given how much we love jugaadu racketeers. Also, as we, good hacks or the lazy ones know; those of us who chase bewildering stories just half way down the road, then let them disappear into a cloud of dust—that this series happened because its writer did not lose sight of the story. American journalist Jessica Pressler, in fact, kicked off a storm, she chased her story so hard. A bomb of a rogue story gone starry for the New York magazine in 2018.

I set myself the task of rummaging through this dumpster fire of New York idiots and frauds in the nine episode, nine-hour series where truth and falsehood combat with such disgust for each other that both lose anyway. I am looking for what no one found in Pressler’s original story—the answer to the question, what made Anna so annoyingly remorseless? No explanation emerges from this dirt. When I continue to rummage—with glazed surprise, the brightest question that strikes me (or the dumbest depending on where you stand on this  review) is, how the hell can people be so stupid? Here is the same question in different colours and sizes. What were these bankers and rich socialites thinking? How could Anna Delvey (played by Julia Garner) be so brazenly deceitful? Can Celine glasses, Chanel jackets, Balenciaga and Dior dresses or Gucci bags (it’s a sham review remember so nobody will check the facts if you say Fendi instead of Hermes), really blind those who claim to be the smartest from Soho to Manhattan?


Anna (Julia Garner) being interviewed by Vivian Kent, the journalist (Anna Chlumsky) in jail.

An otherwise boring banker has lustful morning sex with his wife (artfully bringing her to fake orgasm) because he has stumbled into the ambitions of stylish Anna wanting one of the most famous buildings in New York for an art foundation? That an irritatingly accented German heiress without a bank account to prove it, flashes credit cards that don’t work many a time, hotel suites, $100 tips, Valentino couture, and some damn good luxury bags, worn like medals of entitlement on her diet-thin arms to inspire the genuinely successful to play better tennis, rediscover their G spots, cut off entitled Gen Z children, gloat, gobble reason and toast her on the finest wine? Really?

It is that incredulity provoked by the real Anna Sorokin story brought to couch lovers of scam tales that fascinates me. The silly tick of a question: “really?” is now my couch mate. How I love feeling vicariously stupid. I am no longer scamming you with this review. I am seriously suggesting you watch Inventing Anna. Despite its flabby editing—the series would indeed be sharper if it were shorter. I am telling you not to miss it for a dozen silly reasons. To gawk at the stunning interiors of the richest homes and hotels in Manhattan. From the enigmatic art on the walls to slinky satin robes and luxury-soaked bathrooms that would guide a Zen lover on meditative emptiness. For style lessons—what proportion means in cropped flared pants and how rust works beautifully against black and white. How to mismatch figure hugging couture with the tallest stilettos. Notice why the most stylish scamsters will never be caught dead in sneakers and athleisure, the only stuff they actually need to run away from the law. How to tip hotel staff and not make the receiver feel awkward. How to have vacations you can’t afford—so take tips for what therapists advise—travel in the mind. Morocco or Maldives is not the point. Right?


Anna with the smart set and the moneyed of New York.

How to carry a large Balenciaga handbag like a feather even when it may be 550 grams bigger than your ideal bag size (proportions people, proportions). How to wear nerdy Celine spectacles without looking like a student or a teacher. When is the right time to go auburn from a blonde in life to course-correct Instagram and socialite messaging?

I totally dislike Anna Delvey the character as played by Garner. She does such a great job of being off-putting, so consumed with her “I am a successful businessperson” delusion and “Can I just Wire You the Money” fix that I am anxious I will become a Garner fan.

Most funnily, I fall for Anna Delvey-Sorokin’s ingenuous, again incredulous idea of hiring a professional stylist—Anatasia Walker in real life for her #Courthouselooks. Really? For her game of how to look guilty of being a genius at financial scamming while being innocent on the count of deceiving friends! Calling out patriarchy while ruining people’s lives. Letting falsehood loose outside its psychological shackles to have an open fight with truth and fact. A black dress (allegedly Miu Miu according to an article in the New York Post) for the trial at the State Supreme Court and a white lacy one for the sentencing. A black fabric choker remains constant, as do flat black ballerinas. Anna Delvey invents a fashion show in the courthouse making her lawyer and the story’s reporter run to find the right looks.

The gavel pounds. “I have been held up in this courtroom for many odd reasons, once at gunpoint, but never for a wardrobe,” says the judge. “This is not a fashion show Ms Sorokin,” she thunders. Sorokin shrugs, for that’s exactly what she wants. To turn the gaze away from the scam that’s the sum total of her so that people see something else. That look of the judge, the unbelieving stare is mine too dear reader. “You should get Dior or Chanel, you are really basic. And why are you so fat,” says Anna to Vivian Kent, the journalist played by Anna Chlumsky. “I am in prison, but look how I have accessorised my uniform,” adds the unrelenting-on-style Anna.


Fashion is essentially about elitism and privilege, it creates an instant believable vibe of success and wealth.

It’s a style spa, this series. A fashion van moving with designer stuff for a glamour shoot in Manhattan. A closet stacked with animated fraud and remorseless financial crimes. “Second degree grand larceny and theft of services,” as the court called it when Anna Sorokin was sentenced in 2019.

Watch it, watch it. Also for the cynical little reminder that among the easiest tools of duping people into believing who you are not, great style and expensive fashion beats other disguises. It creates an instant believable vibe of success and wealth. Fashion is essentially about elitism and privilege. Right? Anna is so fashionably right.

Inventing Anna is also a reminder of the Nirav Modi story in India. How the “diamond merchant” and talented “jewellery designer” sold us an expensive, glittering (and fake) story by showing his hallowed collection of art and his networks with the rich and famous. A story we never investigated or questioned enough. I was among those journalists. Really. What a scam of a job we do sometimes.

Banner: A still from Inventing Anna, a Netflix production, featuring Julia Garner as Anna Delvey.