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Fashion magazines suspend photographers Mario Testino and Bruce Weber over molestation allegations

Photographers Mario Testino and Bruce Weber have been suspended by various fashion magazines, after models accused the fashion photographers of sexually exploiting them.

fashion and trends Updated: Jan 15, 2018 11:54 IST
Press Trust of India
Fashion,Mario Testino,Bruce Weber
Mario Testino was a favourite of the English royal family and immortalised the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton. (Reuters)

Mario Testino and Bruce Weber have been suspended by various fashion magazines, including Vogue, after models accused the top fashion photographers of sexually exploiting them. In a New York Times expose, 15 current and former male models who worked with Weber, described a pattern of what they said was “unnecessary nudity and coercive sexual behaviour, often during photo shoots”.

The men said, during the private sessions, Weber asked them to undress and led them through breathing and “energy” exercises. According to the models, they were asked to breathe and to touch both themselves and Weber, moving their hands wherever they felt their “energy”.

“I remember him putting his fingers in my mouth, and him grabbing my privates. We never had sex or anything, but a lot of things happened. A lot of touching. A lot of molestation,” said model Robyn Sinclair.

In incidents going back to the mid-1990s, 13 male assistants and models, who have worked with Testino, told the publication that he subjected them to sexual advances, which in some cases included groping and masturbation. Ryan Locke, a model who worked with Testino on Gucci campaigns, described him as a “sexual predator”.

Representatives for both photographers denied the allegations and said they were shocked by the claims. “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.

Lavely & Singer, a law firm that represents Testino, questioned the credibility of people who complained of harassment, and also wrote that it had spoken to several former employees who were “shocked by the allegations” and that they “could not confirm any of the claims”.

Testino, a favourite of the English royal family and Vogue, was the man who immortalised the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton. In 2014, he received an OBE. He recently photographed the February cover of Vogue, featuring Serena Williams and her daughter. Vogue publisher Conde Nast said it would not work with the photographers “for the foreseeable future”.

Artistic director Anna Wintour, who is also Vogue’s editor-in-chief, said in a statement that the claims had “been hard to hear and heartbreaking to confront”. In a separate statement, Wintour and Conde Naste chief Bob Sauerberg also said they were “deeply disturbed” by the accusations.

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First Published: Jan 15, 2018 11:51 IST