More Magazines Are Refusing To Work With Terry Richardson & It's Hard To Ignore The Timing
In light of the Harvey Weinstein allegations in Hollywood, women from all industries and experiences have shared their encounters with sexual assault, forcing a dialogue about sexual abuse into the mainstream. And earlier this week, we saw headlines that Condé Nast International has reportedly banned Terry Richardson, a photographer with his own history of sexual assault allegations, from its publications.
Shortly after, more publications and brands started cutting ties with the photographer. Hearst Communications, which publishes Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, and Marie Claire, announced on Oct. 26 that it would not work with Richardson anymore. Other outlets, like The Wall Street Journal and Porter, the Net-a-Porter magazine, also discontinued their work with Richardson. Fashion brands like Bulgari, Valentino, and Diesel ended work with Richardson in the days after Condé Nast's announcement, too.
On Oct. 24, Condé Nast International abruptly ended working with Richardson, Britain’s The Daily Telegraph first reported. Condé Nast COO James Woolhouse reportedly sent out an internal email to "country presidents," asking for any unpublished work by the photographer to be "killed or substituted with other material." The company publishes international editions of major fashion magazines like Vogue, GQ, Glamour, and Vanity Fair, but does not include Condé Nast's U.S. based titles. The American branch of Condé Nast broke ties with Richardson on Oct. 25.
Obtained by the Telegraph, the leaked email from Woolhouse reportedly reads as follows:
“I am writing to you on an important matter. Condé Nast would like to no longer work with the photographer Terry Richardson. 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. Please could you confirm that this policy will be actioned in your market effective immediately. Thank you for your support in this matter.”
Conde Nast declined Bustle's request for comment. Terry Richardson's representative was also contacted, but has not responded to requests for comment.
Terry Richardson poses with Hungarian model Eniko Mihalik for a David Webb ad in 2012.
While no allegations of harassment or assault against Richardson have come up publicly since 2014, Condé Nast International confirmed to Women's Wear Daily that the company has broken ties because of Richardson's history with alleged sexual misconduct .
“Condé Nast has nothing planned with Terry going forward,” the publisher told WWD. “Sexual harassment of any kind is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.”
Richardson has been accused of sexually exploiting models for years. This has been documented by Jezebel, Slate, and Complex, among other publications. He's known in the fashion industry for creating photographs that are sexually explicit. Take for example the 2009 ad for Sisley, which was meant to advertise the brand's newest collection but was shot in a way that simulated a date rape scene, where the model was made to look drugged, disoriented, and pinned down by a male companion.
Richardson is the man who has famously been reported to have said, in a 2007 interview with Hint Magazine, "It's not who you know, it's who you blow. I don't have a hole in my jeans for nothing."
He has been accused of offering a Vogue shoot in exchange for sex: The model, Emma Appleton, screenshotted an alleged message that has since been deleted. He has allegedly stripped down naked during photo shoots with 19-year-old models, and in 2014, model Charlotte Waters accused him of licking her bottom and asking her to play with his testicles on a shoot. Richardson has also been accused of asking models to take out their tampons for him to play with.
Amidst these allegations, Richardson continued to book important gigs, like directing Beyonce's "XO" video, and working with brands like Valentino, which booked him to shoot their Resort 2018 campaign. He also took portraits of high-powered celebrities like Barack Obama, Martha Stewart, and Kylie Jenner.
In 2014, as a response to the backlash against him, he wrote in an op-ed piece in the Huffington Post, “I collaborated with consenting adult women who were fully aware of the nature of the work, and as is typical with any project, everyone signed releases.”
While there is sometimes nudity in modeling and editorial work, that doesn't take into account the power differentials between an aspiring model and a powerful man with industry connections. If Richardson did undress in a photoshoot and ask for a hand job (as he has been accused of doing in 2010), one cannot say that is a reasonable job expectation of a model or a request she can refuse without possible repercussions. If she refuses, it could be the end of her career.
As Slate explained in 2014 when unpacking Waters' allegations, "And there was the other 19-year-old model to who (sic) says he took out his penis, licked her ass, and ejaculated into her eye. She says that the implicit power imbalance of the shoot (unknown teenage model vs. famous photog) made her uncomfortable bowing out as Richardson’s behavior escalated."
Models have also raised their voices this past week in the wake of the Weinstein scandal, detailing their past harassment experiences — including Cameron Russell, who started #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse to help models who experienced sexual assault speak out.
Though Richardson has never been prosecuted for sexual assault or abuse, the sheer number of women coming forward with allegations is something that can't be ignored. And it seems like their collective voices are making employers and companies listen.