23-Nov, 06:59

12:53, October 27 86 0

2017-10-27 12:53:02
‘Terry Richardson Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg’

This week, in an apparently defensive move after a social media outcry, the biggest fashion magazines cut ties with the photographer Terry Richardson over his history of alleged sexual harassment.

On Monday, The Telegraph broke the news that James Woodhouse, the Condé Nast International executive vice president, had sent a memo to select staff saying that the company would no longer be working with the “controversial” fashion photographer.

“Any shoots that have been commissioned or any shoots that have been completed but not yet published should be killed and substituted with other material,” the memo said.

The next day, Condé Nast International’s American sister organization released a statement saying: “Condé Nast has nothing planned with Terry Richardson going forward. Sexual harassment of any kind is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.”

Porter, the Net-a-Porter magazine, also said it was no longer working with Mr. Richardson. So did Hearst magazines, which owns Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire and Marie Claire. Mr. Richardson had already been commissioned to shoot the January cover of Elle and had recently done so. It is now being redone by another photographer.

Bulgari, Diesel and Valentino, all brands that recently worked with Mr. Richardson on their ad campaigns, issued statements stating that they had no plans to work with him in the future.

It all sounds very responsible. But some industry insiders have begun to question whether fashion’s efforts to distance itself from Mr. Richardson is an attempt to Band-Aid over a deeper crisis, to make a public example of an offender already accused in order to appear to be taking action, when a much broader and more systemic approach needs to be adopted.

Edie Campbell, a model who has been featured in campaigns for Chanel and Dior, among others, said: “The reality is that the floodgates are already open regarding Terry Richardson. He’s been blacklisted once before, and it’s not that much of an emotional, psychological or commercial leap to blacklist him again. The difficulty is addressing the other people — the ones who are celebrated by the fashion industry, and who are still at the very heart of it. This will not be solved simply by banning the use of one photographer.”

While there are many creative and morally reputable professionals in the industry, it is also rife with reports of lines being crossed.

“The problem is much larger than Terry, who has become the scapegoat, and the quickest means for this industry to absolve itself from any responsibility,” said David Bonnouvrier, the co-founder of DNA Models.

Katie Grand, the editor of Love magazine and a stylist who works with brands including Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu, and who earlier this week reposted a statement from Ms. Campbell on Instagram to the same effect, wrote in an email: “I don’t want to sound like I’m defending him, but I thought it was important to put into perspective that every model has a story of a photographer, client, art director, stylist behaving inappropriately.”

Mr. Richardson was widely pilloried in 2014 when allegations of behavior that included cavorting naked on shoots and forcing his penis on models surfaced in the news media.

Mr. Richardson has not denied his behavior but has always maintained that any sexual activity was consensual, and no criminal charges were ever filed. No major new allegations have appeared since 2014, and he had reportedly gone through therapy. He recently had twins and got married.

Numerous magazines cut ties with Mr. Richardson around 2014, though he had gradually returned to the industry, working with celebrities including Miley Cyrus and Beyoncé as well as magazines and brands.

When Roberta Myers was the editor of Elle (she recently stepped down), she had forbidden the magazine to work with Mr. Richardson, but after Nina Garcia was appointed as Elle’s new editor, he was commissioned to photograph the actress Zoë Kravitz for the January 2018 cover.

After The New York Times published its account detailing allegations of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and abuse, Joanna Coles, the chief content officer of Hearst, and Ms. Garcia decided to cancel the Elle cover photographed by Mr. Richardson and to reshoot it, a Hearst spokeswoman confirmed.

American Vogue stopped working with Mr. Richardson in 2010, when the first public statements about his behavior appeared, but in the last two years he had done shoots for Vogue China, Vogue France, Korean W, German GQ and Italian GQ, among others. Recently he shot a story for the November issue of W, a Condé Nast magazine, for the first time since 2011. (Mr. Richardson’s photographs have also appeared in T: The New York Times Style Magazine, but not since 2012.)

A Condé Nast spokeswoman said that Stefano Tonchi, the editor of W, was not available for comment. But according to a person familiar with the shoot who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media, the magazine had decided it was time to give Mr. Richardson another chance. Editors were on set during the shoot and also handled the model casting.

In the wake of the current revelations about the behavior of men in power, including Bill O’Reilly and Leon Weiseltier, however, Mr. Richardson’s past behavior once again made news. The Sunday Times of London revisited the story (the day before Condé Nast International sent its memo). A petition was started on Change.org asking magazines and other brands to stop using Mr. Richardson; it has over 42,000 signatures.

The designer Prabal Gurung posted on Instagram: “It is important that we hold everyone accountable who worked with Terry Richardson. Not to shame them, but to understand the intention & motive behind their decision to turn a blind eye to his horrific actions. Clearly they cannot say they didn’t know, because we all knew.”

The question now becomes: What else does fashion know?

Trish Goff, a former top model who has spoken about her experience with Mr. Weinstein, said that during her modeling years, “there were other girls and agents who would warn you about a photographer. They’d say, ‘Be mindful of him,’ or “Don’t let him convince you to take off your clothes.’”

Athena Currey, who modeled from 1993 to 2008, said that when she was a 19-year-old working in Paris, her agency sent her on a shoot with a photographer who called her later that night at her hostel to describe how much he wanted to “make love to me.” The next day, she told her agent, a woman, that the conversation made her very uncomfortable and that she did not want to work with him again.

“Everyone said, ‘Of course, of course,’” Ms. Currey said now. “Then a week later, my agent called me and said: ‘I have a really important job, and I really think you should do it. Only it’s with that photographer.’ And then she put a huge amount of pressure on me to get over it and do the job. And I know they sent other girls to him afterward.” The agency, which was a minor presence in the industry, appears to have closed.

None of the models who discussed their experiences for this article said their agents ever talked to them about how to handle unwanted advances from photographers, even if they knew their clients were likely to encounter them.

Carolyn Kramer, a former co-director of Marilyn Models and a former casting director at Self magazine who currently owns an art gallery in Provincetown, Mass., said: “It all came back to the money. If an agency sees potential in a 15-year-old girl, then it doesn’t matter to them what may be happening behind the scenes if the girl can get a campaign. I give myself a C- for what I was able to accomplish to protect my girls. We all sold our souls to the devil so the model could become famous.”

Amber Valletta, a model, actress and activist, said she was asked to take her top off during her first modeling summer in Italy when she was 15 and, on another occasion, was asked by a model booker at a magazine to disrobe. When Ms. Valletta was 18 or 19, she said, a photographer came to her hotel room, asked to give her a massage and began rubbing her breasts.

She said she thought the most important next step was putting structures in place throughout the industry to protect all involved, from garment workers to models.

“My experiences were so minor compared to stories I have heard,” she said. “You start taking one person down, and the skies are going to fall.”

Condé Nast is aware of the risk. On Thursday, in a email to internal management as well as outside contractors, Bob Sauerberg, the chief executive of Condé Nast, and Jonathan Newhouse, the chairman, wrote:

Ms. Kramer said, “Terry Richardson is just the tip of the iceberg. If magazines distanced themselves from everybody that has been implicated in this kind of behavior, there would be a lot fewer contributing photographers” in their pages.