Fashion photographers Bruce Weber and Mario Testino have been accused of sexual assault, according to a report from The New York Times. According to the exposé published today, January 13, there are 15 male models who have accused Weber, and 13 male models and assistants that have come forward with allegations about Testino. Both photographers denied the allegations through legal representatives.
The Times reports that many of the models recounted a similar scenario when talking about Weber: a private “session” where he allegedly requested that the models take off their clothes and participate in “breathing” exercises. During these sessions, the models claim that Weber asked them to touch themselves and him, and claim that he allegedly touched them as well.
In further detail, model Robyn Sinclair told The Times: “I remember him putting his fingers in my mouth, and him grabbing my privates. We never had sex or anything, but a lot of things happened. A lot of touching. A lot of molestation.”
The allegations against Testino, The Times reports, date back to the 1990s. His accusers tell the outlet that he allegedly made unwanted sexual advances on them, sometimes including groping or molestation. Some of Testino’s accusers said that they would not speak publicly about the allegations, noting that they felt pressured to go along with his advances in order to preserve their careers. To that end, agent Gene Kogan explained to The Times: “It was general practice to give a model a heads-up about a specific photographer who we knew had a certain reputation. [But] if you said you were not going to work with someone like Bruce Weber or Mario Testino, you might as well just pack it in and go work in another industry.”
Ryan Locke, who has modeled in major campaigns, described a couple of incidents with Testino to The Times, calling the photographer “a sexual predator.” He recalled attending a casting in Testino’s hotel room, where he allegedly greeted the model in a robe. Locke also alleges that Testino was “aggressive and flirtatious” throughout the shooting of a Gucci ad campaign, and that the photographer made unwanted advances towards him on the last day of the shoot. After Testino allegedly demanded that everyone leave the set, Locke recounted that the photographer allegedly “shuts the door and locks it. Then he crawls on the bed, climbs on top of me and says, ‘I’m the girl, you’re the boy.’ I went at him, like, you better get away. I threw the towel on him, put my clothes on and walked out.”
The Times notes that representatives for both Weber and Testino have denied the claims. In a statement from his attorney, Weber said: “I’m completely shocked and saddened by the outrageous claims being made against me, which I absolutely deny.” Similarly, Testino’s law firm refuted the allegations, adding that they contacted previous employees who “could not confirm any of the claims.”
Weber and Testino have worked with numerous fashion houses and magazine titles, including ones owned by Condé Nast, Teen Vogue‘s parent company. In a statement to the New York Times Condé Nast chief executive Robert A. Sauerberg Jr. and artistic director Anna Wintour, who is also the editor-in-chief of Vogue, said: “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.” The company has also put into effect new policies regarding protocol on photo shoots, as well as model’s rights, details of which are forthcoming.
Sexual misconduct in the modeling industry is unfortunately all too prevalent, as a recent survey from Models.com noted. However, there are movements in the works to combat these trends, such as The Model Alliance, which was founded in 2012 by Sara Ziff. The organization seeks to protect models from workplace harassment, as well as pressures “to engage in starvation dieting.” Ziff, the company’s founding director, also helped produce legislation that created federal protections for child performers.
Teen Vogue has reached out to Mr. Weber and Mr. Testino for further comment.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can seek help by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). For more resources on sexual assault, visit RAINN, End Rape on Campus, Know Your IX, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.