Predators in Fashion

Three years ago when New York magazine published a devastating article on Terry Richardson and his alleged sexual exploitation of models; the fashion industry gasped, feigned outrage and then went right back to doing business as usual with the photographer. In this Harvey Weinstein scandal era, the firestorm surrounding Richardson blazes again with Condé Nast, Valentino, Bulgari and other brands vowing not to work with the disgraced photog going forward. Will anything really change though; what of the other offenders and enablers complicit in these years old crimes

“I’m not naive enough to think these brands suddenly care about the human rights of models. After all, seven years have passed since I spoke out. It should not have taken this long,” says former model Jamie Peck of the predatory Richardson in a Guardian op-ed piece yesterday. Meanwhile in entertainment, other talents such as James Toback, Ben Affleck and Casey Affleck are under scrutiny, and Richardson appears to be the only offending fashion name that’s circulating at this time. But if you’ve worked in fashion long enough as I have you are aware of the credible rumors that have circulated for years on the bad behavior of a number of photographers, designers, agents, stylists etc. 

Christy Turlington rightly stated that “the fashion industry is surrounded by predators.” Will anything come of those decades-old rumors we’ve heard of those multi-contracted Condé Nast photographers who are handsy and coercive with male models? Using their influence, authority and promise of future employ to access the hardbodies of these models. Gianni Versace is long dead but just today Kevin Sorbo recounts his early days in Milan when Versace allegedly put hands on his thighs of the then model hoping to ignite some action that would then translate into campaign work. Surely there are living culprits of similar acts? What of those model bookers so prevalent in the 90s who had models hopped up on drugs, making it all the easier to finesse him/her into sex acts? What about that production head and club promoter never seen without a model on their arm and long rumored to farm and pimp out those ladies to international men of mystery?

What about the Japanese manager who appears in one of the anonymously detailed accounts on Cameron Russell’s Instagram feed that’s been devoted to these kinds of stories under the #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse since the Richardson firestorm reignited? “One manager in Japan told me he had a huge dick while he was driving me to a casting. I was 15 or 16 years old and wearing a short skirt and reading a book. So I immediately curled up my legs and started staring out the window. Then I lied to myself he must’ve said something else and the accent got in the way. Then he told me in a very aggressive tone that he also had a gun. It was at the end of my contract so I never mentioned it to anyone because I felt responsible for wearing a skirt.” 

Terry Richardson for the time being is a sideshow trophy resulting from this knee jerk period. If we’re to really clean up the skeletons in Fashion’s closet, more names will have to surface.