February 16, 2018
by Colleen McGregor
The Boston Globe has published a major investigative article in which numerous models and others in the fashion industry have accused several high-profile fashion photographers of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. The photographers, who deny all the allegations, include Patrick Demarchelier, David Bellemere, Greg Kadel, Andre Passos and Seth Sabal. In addition, stylist Karl Templer has also been accused of sexual misconduct in the article, which was published on February 16, 2018. Templer also denies the allegations.
The harassment allegations include unwanted sexual advances (verbal and physical), inappropriate touching and sexual assault. All of the alleged victims, many of whom want to remain anonymous, say that the accused used their power to intimidate and pressure people into letting the accused get away with this behavior for years.
Demarchelier, who used to be Princess Diana’s photographer, was dropped by Condé Nast (parent company of magazines such as Vogue, GQ, Glamour, and Vanity Fair) after the Boston Globe contacted Condé Nast about the allegations against Demarchelier. Kadel has also been dropped by Condé Nast and Victoria’s Secret, another longtime employer of his. Meanwhile, Victoria’s Secret and Lord & Taylor severed ties with Bellemere in 2016, which suggests that the companies knew about problems with him long before the Boston Globe article was published.
The Boston Globe article comes after three other famous fashion photographers faced career consequences after being accused of sexual misconduct in incidents that span several years. In January 2018, Condé Nast dropped Mario Testino and Bruce Weber, who was also let go by designer Michael Kors after the allegations were made public. In October 2017, Terry Richardson was fired by Condé Nast, Valentino and Bulgari. The same week that Condé Nast cut ties with Testino and Weber, the company announced that it had revised its photography policy, which now includes no longer hiring models under the age of 18 and no longer serving alcohol at photo shoots.
The #MeToo effect on the fashion industry also raises a larger question of why there isn’t more diversity in fashion photography, which is dominated by men. After all, fashion photography doesn’t require any abilities in which one gender is more inclined to excel over another, compared to a physically demanding job. Why isn’t the fashion industry giving more opportunities to female photographers? It could go a long way in creating a more equal balance of power since photographers usually control the environments in which models are at their most vulnerable. Although women are also capable of committing sexual harassment, it’s been proven time and again that the vast majority of people who commit sexual harassment are men in power. Firing photographers accused of sexual harassment is a short-term band-aid when fashion photography still perpetuates sexism by letting one gender dominate the power structure instead of giving equal opportunities to males and females.