It looks like Terry Richardson might have himself some company in the Scorched Earth Fashion Photographers Club. On Saturday, The New York Times published an expose on fashion photographers Bruce Weber and Mario Testino. Some parts of the fashion industry have quickly kicked them to the curb like a stack of old musty Vogue magazines.
Last December, a male model named Jason Boyce sued Bruce Weber for allegedly sexual harassing him during a photo shoot in 2014. Since then, fifteen more models have come forward claiming that Santa’s biker brother asked them to join him in private clothing-free “breathing exercises” in which he would allegedly guide their hands on his body and vice-versa. One model remembers a breathing sessions in which Bruce put his fingers in the model’s mouth and on his privates.
Mario Testino, a favorite photographer of Vogue, Vanity Fair, and the Royal family since 1997, was accused of inappropriate behavior by thirteen male assistants and models going back as far as the mid-90s. Accusations included subjecting them to unwanted sexual advances, groping, and masturbation. Two former Gucci models told The Times that it was known that if you wanted to advance your career, you met with Mario (described by one of the models as a “sexual predator“) for a nude shoot at the Chateau Marmont. Several stories began with Mario Testino answering the door to his hotel room in a loose bathrobe.
Both Bruce and Mario’s accusers felt that Bruce and Mario were powerful enough to destroy their careers, and that rejection might land them in the unemployment line. Former Next Management agent Gene Kogan told The Times that it was general knowledge for models to get a heads-up about “certain” photographers. He adds that refusing to work with someone like Bruce or Mario was pretty much a guaranteed career killer.
Bruce Weber released a statement to The Times regarding the allegations, which he denies.
“I’m completely shocked and saddened by the outrageous claims being made against me, which I absolutely deny.”
Lawyers for Mario Testino questioned the credibility of the models The Times spoke to and said that former employees were reportedly “shocked by the allegations” against him.
Regardless of the denials, WWD says that on Saturday, brands Michael Kors and Stuart Weitzman both said they have chosen not to work on future campaigns with Mario Testino. Burberry, who last worked with Mario Testino in 2016, said they had no plans to work with him in the future. Ralph Lauren, who frequently works with Bruce Weber, announced that they will not do business with anyone who “behaves in a way that compromises” their commitment to a safe work environment.
Conde Nast CEO Bob Sauerberg and Conde Nast artistic director Anna Wintour issued a statement denouncing sexual harassment and assault in the fashion world, and announcing Conde Nast would no longer be working with Mario Testino or Bruce Weber.
“We are deeply disturbed by these accusations and take this very seriously, as previously noted in our statement regarding sexual harassment. In light of these allegations, we will not be commissioning any new work with Bruce Weber or Mario Testino for the foreseeable future.”
Conde Nast had two projects in production with Mario Testino (a Vogue shoot) and Bruce Weber (a W fashion shoot), but those won’t be cancelled. Kensington Palace has declined to comment on The Times’ story. .
WWD adds that Mario and Bruce might be just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a rumor going around the fashion industry that 10 more high-profile photographers are set to be outed as alleged creeps. Why do I get the feeling Steven Meisel’s name might be on that list?
The fashion and advertising industry has an obligation to work together and help make things right. Quitting Mario and Bruce is the first step. Might I suggest the next step might be to work on the bathrobe situation. First Harvey Weinstein, then Dustin Hoffman, and now Mario Testino have tainted bathrobes with their creepy stink. At this point, there’s nothing more deserving of a complete image overhaul than bathrobes.