A damaging exposé by The Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigative team has alleged sexual misconduct by five more fashion photographers.
Patrick Demarchelier, David Bellemere, Greg Kadel, Seth Sabal and Andre Passos are the photographers who have been accused, as well as stylist Karl Templer. Each denied the claims in The Boston Globe article. In addition, “many complained that they can’t fully defend themselves when the Globe protects the identities of alleged victims, including by not always disclosing names, dates and locations to them,” the story stated.
WWD’s requests for further comment from Demarchelier, Bellemere, Sabal and Passos each were not responded to Friday afternoon. A representative for Kadel would only reiterate what had been stated in The Globe story, in relation to claims of unwanted sexual advances, “Mr. Kadel never sexually coerced or assaulted anyone in his life. As a creative professional for many years, Mr. Kadel has always accurately represented the intention or scope of his work and has always worked through a model’s agent and made sure that each model was fully aware and comfortable with the creative vision being pursued in any project before they signed on to participate.”
Templer’s spokeswoman also declined comment and referenced his rebuttal in the Spotlight article.”I deny these vague and anonymous allegations. If I’ve inadvertently made anyone feel uncomfortable, I’m truly sorry. Although physical interaction with models is a necessary aspect of my job as a fashion stylist, I’ve never touched anyone in an inappropriate way nor ever with any sexual intent. I’m always respectful of models, remain deeply committed to creating a safe and professional working environment and embrace the systematic changes that our industry is implementing.”
The Globe’s Jenn Abelson and Sacha Pfeiffer interviewed more than 50 models — mostly female — who “made credible allegations of sexual misconduct against at least 25 photographers, agents, stylists, casting directors and other industry professionals. In many instances, Spotlight reporters verified the accounts with third parties or examined records such as e-mails.” Nearly 60 percent of models interviewed by the Globe said “they had been touched inappropriately during work-related situations, the violations ranging from unwanted kissing to rape,” according to the story.
The bombshell investigative story follows other reports of photographers allegedly sexually mistreating models. Last fall, Condé Nast said it would no longer work with Terry Richardson and followed that in January by cutting ties with Mario Testino and Bruce Weber after a front-page story in The New York Times alleged the two photographers had harassed male models for years. Burberry and Michael Kors also stopped working with the two photographers. Model Jason Boyce filed a lawsuit against Weber in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in December, alleging sexual misconduct. The photographer denied any wrongdoing in his own legal complaint filed later that month.
Meanwhile, at the same time as The Times article appeared, Condé Nast happened to issue a Code of Conduct to protect models. A Calvin Klein spokeswoman confirmed that the company is working on its own policy as reported in The Globe story. That is expected to be unveiled in the next few weeks, she told WWD Friday.
One photographer “insisted some sexual encounters were consensual, and others said models may have misunderstood the touching and positioning that can be part of their jobs,” according to the report. After inquiries from The Globe last week, Condé Nast said it had severed ties with Demarchelier and Condé Nast International has done the same with Kadel “for the foreseeable future.” Victoria’s Secret is said to have dropped Kadel, though he challenged that in the article.
Executives at Dior, which has worked with Templer, could not be reached for comment Saturday.
The article claims that one of Demarchelier’s former photo assistants wrote to Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour about the photographer’s “relentless advances starting when she was a 19-year-old intern” in October, according to an e-mail reviewed by The Globe. The woman, who requested anonymity, “urged Wintour to prevent Demarchelier from having access to other young women,” the story said. A Condé Nast spokeswoman declined to comment on that matter Friday afternoon.
The former photo assistant wrote in another e-mail “that was circulated to a modeling group ‘I remember many test shoots with teenage girls where Patrick’s team of assistants — including me — was dismissed for the day only to find naked photos of the girl in the darkroom the next day,’” The Globe story reported. In total, seven women accused Demarchelier of unwanted sexual advances, according to The Globe story.
Executives at Hearst did not respond immediately to a request for comment as to whether the company will work with the five aforementioned photographers and Templer.
The article also claimed that about 20 of the models interviewed described highly exploitative relationships with their agents, who work for many of the top New York firms. There were claims of agents giving them drugs and alcohol, withholding earnings, coercing them into sexual relationships as teenagers, failing to inform them that photo shoots would require nudity, encouraging them to sleep with photographers to advance their careers, and sending them to sets with known predators.
In the Globe, Coco Rocha noted there are “people at the top who no doubt have heard these stories for the last 20 years and haven’t done anything.”
In detailing its allegations against Bellemere, the Globe said one model alleged that he had contacted her directly via Instagram “with a photo of a naked woman with bondage marks and an accompanying message that said, ‘Let’s shoot private next time.’” Bellemere denied any wrongdoing in the article. The practice, or problem depending on the scenario, of photographers contacting models directly via Instagram has become and will continue to be increasingly more common, as models and at least one modeling agent have told WWD.