A few short days ago we were celebrating the work and photography of Mario Testino for Stuart Weitzman’s spring campaign with Gigi and Kate; and what felt like just hours later, news from The New York Times of alleged sexual harassment and abuse of 28 male models at the hands of Mario Testino and Bruce Weber combined, came to light in an article explicitly detailing the alleged abuse.
The highly esteemed, Testino, long associated with Vogue and a favourite among the Royal Family, has enjoyed a stellar career and notoriety in the fashion industry and Weber, a revered commercial and fine art photographer famous for his work on campaigns such as Calvin Klein and Abercrombie & Fitch. Of course both men deny the claims questioning the character and even mental health of some of the models.
Industry heavy weights, Condè Nast, have been quick to respond releasing a statement in relation to the allegations with Anna Wintour, Artistic Director and Editor of Vogue, and Chief Executive, Robert A Sauerberg Jr saying;
“We are deeply disturbed by these accusations and take this very seriously. In light of these allegations, we will not be commissioning any new work with Bruce Weber and Mario Testino for the foreseeable future.”
With this announcement, Condè Nast have also revealed that taking effect this month, the newly developed code of conduct created for the protection of models will be in place across their entire business. The guidelines ban the use of models under 18, and further protocol includes the development of an anonymous reporting line for any violations.
Other news this past weekend saw Sara Ziff announce that the talent protections Act of 2018 passed the labour committee in a 6-0 unanimous bipartisan vote…bringing the act one step closer to becoming law; the bill if passed, requiring sexual assault and harassment trainings and the development of health and safety standards for models, actors and other artists working in the entertainment and modelling industries.
In the words of Anna Wintour, “A crisis often results in action”. The good news to come out of all of these horrendous stories is that the industry in it’s call to account is finally taking this situation seriously and not only speaking out against it, but putting strategies in place as a way of preventing this behaviour in the future.
Carving a new way is the triumph of those who dare, leaving a blazing trail behind them and clearing a path for a new generation; but it doesn’t come without significant personal cost and certainly not without enduring determination, so to every brave male and female who dares to speak up and out, despite fear of losing influence, career, livelihood and reputation, you deserve a standing ovation, because you are a catalyst for change and for every other male and female who is thinking about speaking out… DO, because #timesup!