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deuxmoi's digital trail
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One of the most boring, and oft-repeated, narratives of the last couple of years is that of the "pandemic breakout." You're probably familiar with it by now. Someone was stuck in lockdown in the spring of 2020, and they just started posting, and suddenly they were very famous. You know, because we were all bored, and we couldn't see our friends, and were yearning for human connection, yada yada yada.
One of the many breakouts of the pandemic is the popular Instagram account and nascent media brand known as Deuxmoi. The property launched in the 2010s as a blog run by two anonymous women working in the fashion industry. Then it went dormant for a bit. Then the pandemic struck, and one of the account holders was bored, and started soliciting gossip from Deuxmoi's roughly 45,000 followers. The rest, as they say, is history.
Deuxmoi — which translates to "two me" from French — now has more than 1.5 million Instagram followers. They've done this largely by popularizing a type of extremely mundane gossip. A large amount of Deuxmoi’s blind items are about how a follower ran into a celeb a few years ago and they were so nice. Or they weren’t nice. Or it describes what they ordered for lunch. One emblematic tip stuck in my head is when someone wrote in to report seeing Joe Biden in Washington D.C., the capital city of the United States, where he currently serves as President, served as Vice President from 2009 to 2017, and served as a Senator in Congress from 1973 to 2009.
A recent example: Dylan O’Brien was spotted walking with a pretty girl.
(In case you need this clarification: Dylan O’Brien is an actor and not just some guy.) (Actually, if you needed that clarification, he is just some guy.)
Whoever is behind Deuxmoi is very quick to remind followers that the account holder(s) cannot possibly verify everything they post and that Deuxmoi is merely relaying the message. This is an information presentation strategy and punting of responsibility that definitely hasn't caused any widespread public anxiety over the last six years or so.
In recent months, however, the pseudonymous figure known as Deuxmoi has branched out into building a full-fledged media company. Deuxmoi now hosts multiple podcasts, Deux U and Deux Me After Dark (initially featuring substantial use of a voice changer). In March, HarperCollins announced Anon Pls, Deuxmoi's debut novel, a fictionalized memoir about a fashion worker who skyrockets to pseudonymous fame with a Deuxmoi-like social media account. (“Anon pls” is a standard, mostly unnecessary request from Deuxmoi tippers to not be named. Most supply fake, jokey email addresses.) Earlier this month, HBO Max ordered the novel to series, despite the fact that the network already has an actual Gossip Girl reboot which has itself namedropped Deuxmoi.
And yet, even with a podcast, book deal, television show, and regular interviews with media outlets, nobody seems to know who Deuxmoi is. Which I guess I find kind of weird, because it was not difficult to figure out who Deuxmoi is.
The current media climate — and the fact that I’m an independent blog freak and have no institutional reputational authority to lean on — necessitates that I explain at some length why I’m even writing this post.
One reason is that I like solving a mystery, and I think that there is a decent amount of public interest in this one. If they were just an Instagram mod, I probably wouldn’t have an interest in Deuxmoi’s identity. But Deuxmoi repeatedly and willingly puts themselves and their personal perspective on display for 1.5 million followers as a “curator of pop culture.” They are a podcast host, and they frequently give interviews to media outlets. They’re also co-authoring a book that is supposedly inspired by real-life experiences, and which already has a TV adaptation in the works.
Deuxmoi has chosen to tie their individual identity to their increasingly public line of work. I support people telling their own story — which is not mutually exclusive from also believing that, at this point, the identity of whoever is telling that story is, in itself, newsworthy. Deuxmoi is a public figure.
The other reason I am publishing this is because, quite honestly, attempting to answer the question of “Who is Deuxmoi?” did not require any muckraking. I want to stress that, in my experience compiling this report, Deuxmoi does not seem particularly interested in protecting their own anonymity beyond saying, “I’d prefer to be anonymous.”
I developed a solid sense of its history in the course of some web surfing while I ate lunch last week. The information compiled here comes from publicly accessible records of intended-for-public-consumption online activity. Looking at old posts in which Deuxmoi was tagged, public comments they’d made, and a YouTube video that they voluntarily appeared in, and then drawing conclusions from that corpus of evidence does not constitute a violation of privacy.
This post contains no addresses, phone numbers, current employers, or non-public biographical info. I have spent the last week following up on gleaned information, collating data, and reaching out to people who might know more — including the creators of Deuxmoi — and offering them the chance to comment. I’m just gonna spell it out: I take this work seriously, I have pored over the details, and I have given a lot of consideration as to the structure and contents of this piece.
(If you have a clarification or correction, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
let’s do a brief FAQ
“Why are you trying to cancel Deuxmoi?” I’m not.
“Isn’t this doxxing?” Doxxing is by and large defined as “the publication of private or sensitive information,” none of which you’ll find here.
“But won’t this have a chilling effect on the journalism that Deuxmoi publishes?” Deuxmoi self-describes as ‘entertainment’ and stresses that blinds may not be accurate, so no, I’m not particularly worried.
“Won’t this reduce my ability to enjoy Deuxmoi?” Maybe; stop reading if so.
“Well, I still want to yell at you about it.” My email’s right up there.
If you believe that Deuxmoi — who has an online audience in the millions, who has sold a version of their own life to publishers and producers, who regularly makes media appearances promoting their company, and perhaps most importantly, whose media brand is based on a belief that the actions of even mildly notable people constitute info worth sharing widely and with abandon — should not even have so much as their name published, you are welcome to make that argument. I simply disagree, for the reasons stated above.
into the archives
Let’s establish a baseline. Deuxmoi was a fashion blog run by two anonymous women from roughly 2013 to 2016. In an interview with The Daily Front Row in 2015, Deuxmoi's co-founders explained the anonymity as a product of not wanting the site to be about them, and about wanting to be able to speak critically and freely. "We also wanted to be able to say ‘f*ck’ and ‘sh*t’ without our parents feeling embarrassed," they added. "Since we are anonymous, it seems easier to be more liberal with our writing and images. No judgement, because this is a judgy-wudgy f*cking world."
They also say that the site was launched two years prior, in 2013. This is important because in numerous interviews, such as with the YouTube channel Hollywood Raw in 2020, Deuxmoi says that they started the Instagram account with a friend seven years prior, which is also 2013. The point being: someone who was running Deuxmoi as a blog is also responsible for its current iteration as an Instagram gossip account.
This is helpful to know, because while the Deuxmoi blog (a period I'll refer to as Deuxmoi 1.0) is now online accessible through the Internet Archive, references to it are all over social media. Supermodel Doutzen Kroes, for instance, had a nice meeting with them in 2013.
Deuxmoi 1.0 was popular back during a golden age of social media interoperability, when people regularly linked their Instagram account to their Twitter account. That means that even as handles change and posts get deleted on Instagram, the Twitter crossposts are frozen in time, like the mosquito that drank dinosaur blood from Jurassic Park. This is a tortured metaphor, but you get the idea.
The remnants of Deuxmoi 1.0 are scattered all over Instagram and Twitter, and relatively easy to piece together. In a July 2013 Instagram post, for example, model Kristina Romanova tags both @deuxmoi and someone who goes by @mkempsyo. @mkempsyo is mentioned frequently alongside the Deuxmoi account.
Just a little more searching confirms that @mkempsyo is a fashion entrepreneur named Meggie Kempner (the handle has since been changed and the account is now private). Here's a corresponding Pinterest page linking the handle to the civilian name, for example, complete with a pinboard dedicated to her grandmother, famed New York socialite Nan Kempner. The Deuxmoi 1.0 Pinterest page, circa 2014, also featured a pinboard dedicated to Nan.
And just to clear up any ambiguity, there’s the dormant Facebook page of Coco Deuxmoi, who describes herself as “1/2 of the deuxmoi gals at deuxmoi.com” and “co-founder of fashion, beauty and lifestyle website deuxmoi.com” on her profile. In 2014, Coco posted a link to a Vanity Fair write-up of the Kempner brand launch, and commented under it, “so proud of the deuxmoi gals girl Meggie Kempner,” tagging her Facebook profile.
Kempner did not respond to emails asking about her relationship to Deuxmoi, though according to tracking pixels included in them, they were opened at least once.
Figuring out the other half of the Deuxmoi equation requires some deductive reasoning, because the other Deuxmoi gal has been much more effective at sweeping her online presence under the rug. But it’s not too tough to pull the details together.
Here’s model Emily DiDonato complimenting a Twitter user named @gizroc75 on their blog, deuxmoi.com.
But who is @gizroc75? They’re certainly not @mkempsyo, but they also seem to have disappeared from the web. Luckily, we still have old tweets, like this one from model and Deuxmoi collaborator Valentina Zelyaeva.
“Melisss.” I’d guess that’s a first name like Melissa. In another tweet, it’s clear that someone named Melissa was conducting interviews for Deuxmoi.
In this tweet, however, a hair stylist named Louis Angelo refers to @gizroc75 as “Lovallo.” Deuxmoi and Angelo clearly know each other: the pair wholeheartedly endorsed his salon work in a 2015 blog post and featured him in a video they orchestrated in 2013 (more below).
So now we have a full name: Melissa Lovallo. But there’s not much else to go on here, because many of the online accounts tied to this name are now dead ends. The @gizroc75 Twitter account has been deleted, and the corresponding Facebook page and LinkedIn profile have disappeared as well (links to all three, tied to the name, still exist in at least one automated service that crawls the web, scraping and collating personal info). This person has done a great job of keeping a low profile online over the past couple of years.
That’s not to say there’s nothing, however. In posts that tag both Deuxmoi and/or Kempner, another handle shows up with some regularity: @mlovallo12. The account has since been deleted, but tags remain. Luckily, our model friend Kristina Romanova has also linked Deuxmoi to Lovallo on Instagram.
“Miss ya @mkempsyo @mlovallo12 @deuxmoi #ralphlaurenteam #pinkpony #support,” the model Anastassia Khozissova captioned a 2013 photograph, when both appear to have worked at Ralph Lauren. This broadly tracks with a description of Deuxmoi on the now-defunct blog Helpsy, which describes the gals as “veteran fashion industry insiders, a stylist & fashion designer duo.”
A 2013 post on the model-tracking forum Bellazon has archived a couple of Instagrams from @mlovallo12 — the only existing partial archives of anything related to the account as far as I know — including one in which Zelyaeva sports a Deuxmoi t-shirt. Lovallo captioned it, “everyone should follow @deuxmoi,” and tagged Kempner as well.
Confirming that these two women actually were Deuxmoi (as opposed to simply always being tagged alongside the account) might be a difficult task, but luckily, they also appeared in a 2013 YouTube video for a series called “At Home With Sam Jones.” As of publication, the video has a little over 2,300 views. In the video, they give host Sam Jones a makeover by taking her to see aforementioned hair stylist Louis Angelo.
I contacted Jones over Instagram DM to see if I could find out more about the video, and before I’d actually asked anything, she replied, “I never saw the girl’s faces and have no idea what their actual identities are. ❤️.” Jones did not respond to follow-up questions, instead blocking me shortly after I tried to jog her memory by asking if either might have gone by “Meggie” or “Melissa.” (Jones is also one of three ‘likes’ on the aforementioned 2014 Coco Deuxmoi post that explicitly IDs Kempner as one half of the pair.)
Though the Deuxmoi Gals appear in hats, sunglasses, large coats, and scarves, a few miscalculated camera angles provide the data I was looking for. The people in disguise certainly seem to be Lovallo and Kempner, especially when cross-referenced with other existing photos that remain on social media and on-camera promotional work.
The audio is crucial too. It’s helpful that this video does not feature any voice filtering, making it easy to determine which person is currently in charge of (or at least, the voice of) the growing Deuxmoi operation: Melissa Lovallo. I’d say she sounds the same here as she does throughout her podcast and in interviews. There is a very small chance Deuxmoi could now be someone else entirely, but that doesn’t line up with Deuxmoi’s own statements that they are one of the brand’s original co-creators.
Emails sent to Lovallo and the Deuxmoi contact address, summarizing my findings and requesting an interview, were opened, but were not replied to.
Anyhow, that’s what I managed to find sitting in plain sight.
Is this an earth-shattering revelation that will change the course of anything? No, not at all.
Does it totally recontextualize everything you thought you knew about Deuxmoi? Nope.
But did you learn something very anodyne about a public figure? Sure.
And, honestly, what could be more Deuxmoi than that?