By Katya Foreman
with contributions from Anvar Sidorov
 on December 9, 2018
Paccbet at the Comme des Garçons Trading Museum in Paris

PARIS — Gosha Rubchinskiy was scrambling to minimize damage to his business and reputation over the weekend after a 16-year-old seeking to model in the Russian designer’s look book accused him of inappropriate behavior.

Jan Silfverling shared exchanges on Instagram and WhatsApp with Facebook group High Fashion Talk that seem to suggest the designer was trying to coax racy pictures from the youth.

“Would like to show how Gosha can’t be trusted as a designer,” Silfverling said in the post. HFT said “it is alleged by the minor that some of the deleted messages were more explicit in their requests but Gosha redacted them.”

The post was picked up by outlets including Supreme Leaks News and Diet Prada.

Putting it down to a simple request for a photo to facilitate a fashion shoot that has been misinterpreted, Rubchinskiy’s team on Sunday issued a statement to WWD defending the risky practice of casting via Instagram. “Gosha throughout his career in 10 years always personally chose models. For us participation of not professional models and common street-cast guys always was important. Not only appearance but also personal qualities. Gosha and his team maintain friendly relations with many guys over the years. Gosha is familiar personally with many parents. For example, for the show in Florence in 2016, teenagers from all [over] Europe arrived with their parents,” it said. “They all spent time well and received mass of pleasant emotions. We always received only good recalls. Gosha’s brand is designed for a young audience.…We did not expect that it can be used against us like that.”

HFT in a separate item posted a screenshot of a similar exchange that allegedly took place between Rubchinskiy and what it described as “another victim” in October.

Among those rallying to the designer’s defense was Rubchinskiy acolyte Valentin Fufaev, who does a line called Doublecheeseburger. In a Facebook post, he dismissed the scandal as fake news and made a call to models who have been cast in any of Rubchinskiy’s shows or shootings, “to comment on @diet Prada and other gossip accounts, about how they have been casted and nothing wrong was happening with them. We need to spread the truth.”

Closely linked to the skateboarding scene, Rubchinskiy, who is also a photographer and filmmaker, introduced his label in 2008 and presented his first three shows in Moscow. He catapulted onto the men’s wear scene with his edgy shows in Paris, where he showed for four seasons, from June 2014 to January 2016, as a protégé of Comme des Garçons. In April he announced plans to halt seasonal collections.

In a statement to WWD, Adrian Joffe, president of Comme des Garçons International, said: “I am deeply concerned about the events of today, allegations which Gosha has emphatically denied. I abhor the mob mentality of social media and the guilty until proved innocent syndrome which seems to be the order of the day. While I deeply deplore the abuse of power in any industry, I am waiting for the whole truth to come out.”

Comme des Garçons produces and distributes Rubchinskiy’s collections. The designer has collaborated with brands including Dr. Martens, Levi’s, Adidas and Burberry.

Olga Karput, owner of Moscow concept store KM20, also lamented the “war” against Gosha.

“It would be easy to say that I know Gosha and that he is good as a person and as a friend. And I can tell because I have known him for a long period of time. But besides our friendship, I would like to look at it objectively,” she said. “When I look at the whole picture, I see a kid that got refused and wanted revenge. I mean, those texts are controversial, and if you would like to take it only from one side and create a drama I do not think it is correct, as nobody accused the kid of making up the whole story.”

Karput, who has carried Rubchinskiy’s collections since she founded her store, attended fashion shows that the designer staged in St. Petersburg, Kalininigrad and Ekaterinburg. “Some models were there with parents, everything was always transparent,” she noted.

The allegations come in the wake of a series of scandals recently hitting the fashion industry involving photographers’ treatment of male and female models alike.

Facing allegations of sexual misconduct on and off-set, photographers Mario Testino, Bruce Weber and Terry Richardson were blocked from working with fashion brands and magazine titles including Condé Nast, Hearst, WSJ, Michael Kors, Stuart Weitzman, Bulgari, Valentino and Diesel.

Meanwhile, French luxury groups Kering and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 2017 issued a charter to ensure the well-being of models.

The charter, which has been implemented by both groups’ brands worldwide, requires models to present a recent medical certificate proving their overall health, and bans the hiring of models below the age of 16 in shows or shoots representing an adult, among other measures. Models ages 16 to 18 must have a chaperone or guardian on the set during the shoot.

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