The fashion industry is finally taking a stand against Terry Richardson—known as the “Harvey Weinstein of fashion” after almost two decades of sexual assault allegations.
Condé Nast International—the publisher of Vogue, GQ, and Glamour—has blacklisted fashion photographer Terry Richardson in response to allegations of sexual harassment and assault on photoshoots. Further, fashion houses Valentino, Bulgari and Diesel have followed suit and broken ties with the photographer.
An internal email penned by James Woolhouse, Condé Nast International’s executive vice president—obtained by the Daily Telegraph—was sent Monday morning,instructing “country presidents” that the publisher would like to “no longer work with” Richardson.
Richardson—one of the most famous fashion photographers in the world—has photographed the likes of Barack Obama and Kate Moss, and directed music videos for Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” and Beyoncé’s “XO”. He has shot advertising campaigns for world famous fashion houses like Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, and Tom Ford.
“Any shoots that have been commission[ed] or any shoots that have been completed but not yet published, should be killed and substituted with other material,” wrote Woolhouse in the email. A spokesperson for Condé Nast told Mashable that the internal email had been leaked, and accurately cited.
Condé Nast’s decision to cut ties with Richardson appears to be in response to a Sunday Times report, likening the photographer’s behaviour to that of Harvey Weinstein. The report stated that Richardson had been “arm in arm” at New York Fashion Week with British Vogue‘s new editor-in-chief Edward Enninful.
The photographer has been accused of sexually assaulting and harassing female models on photo shoots for almost two decades. Richardson gained recognition for his work in the ’90’s —which often explored themes of sexuality and nudity—and he became one of the fashion industry’s most coveted photographers. Allegations about sexual misconduct on photoshoots began surfacing in 2001 and have continued for the best part of two decades.
But, despite countless allegations and rumours about his behaviour, the photographer’s career wasn’t just unscathed; it went from strength to strength. He continued to land the biggest gigs in the industry, collaborating with some of the biggest names in the fashion and music industries.
In 2014, Richardson denied these allegations in an open letter—entitled “Correcting the rumors”—published on HuffPost. And, models and designers—like Marc Jacobs and Daisy Lowe—even defended Richardson in response to previous allegations.
So, why did it take until now for the industry to take a stand against Richardson? And, why—as The Times asks—was Richardson still “feted by fashionistas” despite the never-ending string of allegations?
Caryn Franklin—former editor at i-D— told The Times that Richard’s conduct was something of an “open secret” in the industry and that his popularity created a “protective shield” for him.
Fashion journalist Pandora Sykes tweeted that the banning of Richardson is because the publishing industry is “covering its backs” and that “no one wants to be the new Hollywood”.
Since Condé Nast International’s move, a number of fashion brands have followed suit. Valentino, Bulgari and Diesel have since blacklisted Richardson, joining the ranks of H&M, Target, and Aldo who banned Richardson in the past.
A spokesperson for Richardson responded to the news of Condé Nast’s decision, providing a statement to BuzzFeed News.
“Terry is disappointed to hear about this email especially because he has previously addressed these old stories,” the spokesperson said. “He is an artist who has been known for his sexually explicit work so many of his professional interactions with subjects were sexual and explicit in nature but all of the subjects of his work participated consensually,” the spokesperson continued.