Leading photographer famous for working with Princess Diana accused of sexually exploiting male models
Famous fashion photographers Mario Testino and Bruce Weber have been levelled with multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment against male models and assistants.
The accusations, published in an article in the New York Times yesterday, tell of repeated sexual advances and molestation.
Thirteen have come forward with their stories against Testino, some of which date back to the mid-1990s, though only some agreed to have their names included.
“I was often made to feel uncomfortable on shoots, asked to massage Mario in front of other assistants, models and fashion editors,” Hugo Tillman, who was an assistant for Testino in 1996, said.
He said Testino once grabbed him and tried to kiss him, and another time pinned him down on a bed.
Another assistant, Roman Barrett, said Testino masturbated in front of him, and that sexual harassment was a “constant reality.”
“Then things would go back to normal,” he said. “And that made you feel gaslighted.”
Model Ryan Locke described him as a “sexual predator” with a notorious reputation.
Testino, 63, was awarded an honorary OBE in 2014 and has long professional ties with the royal family, photographing Princess Diana, and more recently the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their engagement and Princess Charlotte’s christening.
His famous photo subjects also include Kate Moss, Michelle Obama and Serena Williams.
His photo of Williams and her daughter appears on the February cover of US Vogue.
15 former and current models have also accused 71-year-old Weber, whose work includes Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch.
Many report being told to undress and take part in “breathing exercises” with Weber, while touching him and themselves.
Apparently Weber was so known for taking young men for private meetings that people would say “He’s going to get Brucified.”
“I remember him putting his fingers in my mouth, and him grabbing my privates,” said the model Robyn Sinclair.
“We never had sex or anything, but a lot of things happened. A lot of touching. A lot of molestation.”
“I felt helpless,” Mr. Ardolf said of being groped by Weber. “Like my agency said, he has a lot of power. He’s done a lot of large campaigns.
“That was in the back of my mind. ‘I can’t screw this up. I already made it this far.’”
Young models are extremely vulnerable to exploitation in the industry, and particularly with photographers as powerful as Weber and Testino, many were powerless to say no.
“I’m completely shocked and saddened by the outrageous claims being made against me, which I absolutely deny,” Weber said in a statement from his lawyer.
“Given my life’s work, these twisted and untrue allegations are truly disheartening. I’ve been taking pictures for over 40 years and have the utmost respect for everyone I’ve ever photographed,” he told the Times.
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Testino’s lawyers say they are “shocked” by the allegations, and challenge the reliability of the accusers.
Conde Nast – publisher of magazines including Vogue and GQ – has suspended all work with both photographers.
Anna Wintour, Conde Nast’s artistic director of Conde Nast, said the news was “hard to hear and heartbreaking to confront” and that they would not be working with Weber of Testino for the “foreseeable future.”
These allegations come as part of a swathe since Harvey Weinstein was accused of multiple counts of sexual harrassment and assault last year.
Many Hollywood actors have recently teamed to create Times Up – a campiagn to crack down on harrassment both in the industry and in others.