Two of the world’s highest paid fashion photographers Mario Testino and Bruce Weber have been suspended from working for Condé Nast due to allegations of inappropriate behaviour including sexually exploiting male models and assistants. The claims were made against the pair in a New York Times article published today, 14 January 2018.
“I take the allegations very seriously, and we at Condé Nast have decided to put our working relationship with both photographers on hold for the foreseeable future” – Anna Wintour
Condé Nast, publishers of Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ, as well as other popular titles, felt it needed to be proactive in addressing the issue which has been common knowledge for some months. Clearly, the New York Times article was the straw that broke the spin doctor’s back!
Weber has categorically denied the claims, while lawyers for Testino said his accusers, “could not be considered reliable sources”. Anna Wintour artistic director and Vogue’s editor-in-chief said it would not work with the men “for the foreseeable future”. In a separate statement, Wintour and Conde Naste chief Bob Sauerberg also said they were “deeply disturbed” by the accusations.
Weber said, In a statement to the New York Times from his lawyer, “He was “shocked and saddened by the outrageous claims being made against me, which I deny”. Testino, whose past subjects include Royal Family members, Kate Moss, Madonna, Michelle Obama, was accused by 13 male assistants and models of subjecting them to sexual advances. The paper reported that the legal firm representing Testino, 63, said those complaining of harassment could not be considered reliable and that his lawyers had spoken to several former employees who were “shocked by the allegations” and “could not confirm any of the claims”.
The allegations against Testino date back to the mid-1990s and include groping and masturbation, the NY Times reported. Ryan Locke, a model who worked with Testino on Gucci campaigns, described him as a “sexual predator”. Hugo Tillman, a photographic assistant, said Testino pinned him down on a bed before being removed by another person. Another assistant, Roman Barrett, said sexual harassment was a “constant reality”. He claims the photographer masturbated in front of him. In 2014, the Peruvian photographer was made an honorary OBE for his services to photography and charity.
Testino was hired to photograph Diana, Princess of Wales, and more recently the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their engagement and later, for the christening of Princess Charlotte. He has worked with brands such as Burberry and Michael Kors and his photographs of Serena Williams and her newborn baby feature on the cover of the February edition of US Vogue. US photographer Weber, 71, is accused by 15 current and former models of subjecting them to unnecessary nudity and coercive sexual behaviour, according to the New York Times. Weber’s work includes campaigns for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch as well as several films.
The model Bobby Roache said Weber tried to put his hands down his trousers during casting in 2007. In her statement on the Vogue website, Wintour said: “Both (photographers) are personal friends of mine who have made extraordinary contributions to Vogue and many other titles at Conde Nast over the years, and both have issued objections or denials to what has emerged.
The past several months have been an extraordinary time of reckoning and change, and I, like so many others, have been astonished by the courage of those who have come forward to tell stories of sexual misconduct. Abuse of power has gone on for too long in so many places—including in Washington, in Hollywood, in broadcasting, journalism, Silicon Valley, and last but not least, in fashion, where many young women and men have spoken up about manipulation and coercion on go-sees, on shoots, and in other working environments. I’m proud to say that Condé Nast is responding, here and internationally, with a new Code of Conduct, a set of guidelines for outside contributors which has emerged after bracingly honest discussions—with model advocates and agents, stylists, photographers, hair and makeup artists, set designers, and many of our own editors. The goal of these conversations has been to understand how we can create safe and positive environments for everyone we work with. These are some of the decisions we have made:
*All models appearing in fashion shoots commissioned by Condé Nast must be 18 years of age or older. The only exceptions will be those appearing as themselves as part of a profile, news story, or similar content, and they will be required to have a chaperone on set at all times.
*Alcohol will no longer be allowed on Condé Nast sets. Recreational drugs are not permitted.
*Photographers will no longer be permitted to use a Condé Nast set for any work that is not commissioned or approved by the company.
*Any shoot involving nudity, sheer clothing, lingerie, swimwear, simulated drug or alcohol use, or sexually suggestive poses must be approved in advance by the subject.Even as we stand with victims of abuse and misconduct, we must also hold a mirror up to ourselves—and ask if we are doing our utmost to protect those we work with so that unacceptable conduct never happens on our watch. Sometimes that means addressing the fact that such behavior can occur close to home. Today, allegations have been made against Bruce Weber and Mario Testino, stories that have been hard to hear and heartbreaking to confront. Both are personal friends of mine who have made extraordinary contributions to Vogue and many other titles at Condé Nast over the years, and both have issued objections or denials to what has emerged. I believe strongly in the value of remorse and forgiveness, but I take the allegations very seriously, and we at Condé Nast have decided to put our working relationship with both photographers on hold for the foreseeable future.