Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images
Jonathan Borge
Jan 16, 2018 @ 6:00 pm

On Saturday, The New York Times published an exposé detailing allegations of sexual harassment against fashion photographers Bruce Weber and Mario Testino.

The story outlines the way in which each photographer conducted themselves with their subjects, according to 15 current and retired male models interviewed for the piece. Weber was accused of asking models to undress and signaling them to touch themselves, while Testino allegedly had “subjected them to sexual advances that in some cases included groping and masturbation.”

Weber defended himself in a statement released through his lawyer: “I’m completely shocked and saddened by the outrageous claims being made against me, which I absolutely deny.” Testino’s law firm, Lavely & Singer "challenged the characters and 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 those employees 'could not confirm any of the claims.'"

The stories against these photographers are similar to those told by many actresses in Hollywood, who have bravely spoken up about harassment in the workplace since accusations against Harvey Weinstein made headlines. And though many fashion insiders suspected that accusations against Weber and Testino were boiling for months, there’s one question left unanswered: What’s next?

RELATED: Mark Wahlberg Donates $1.5 Million to Time's Up in Michelle Williams' Name

The Time’s Up movement, and the fact that so many women and men wore black as a form of protest at the 2018 Golden Globes, was reflective of the outcome of people coming together to support a cause and fix a problem. The aforementioned movement aims to raise funds to help defend women in lesser-protected workforces against inequality and sexual harassment. As of Jan. 7, the organization, supported by many actresses, raised nearly $16 million.

But what does this mean for the fashion industry? Fashion photographer Terry Richardson has long been accused of harassment, yet still works in the industry. And models like Edie Campbell and Christy Turlington Burns have written open letters and have vocalized their concerns about, specifically, models that bare witness to and often experience harassment first-hand working in fashion.

Are the accusations against Weber and Testino the beginning of a #MeToo-like movement in the fashion industry? James Scully seems to think so. The casting director—who holds a spot on the Business of Fashion’s BoF 500 list—has long been an advocate of diversity in fashion.

John Phillips/Getty Images

In February 2017, Scully shocked many when he took to Instagram to call out the mistreatment of models he witnessed at Paris Fashion Week. Specifically, he said Lanvin issued a mandate to model agents saying “they do not want to be presented with women of color,” that some fashion houses tried to work with models as young as 15, and that Balenciaga casting directors Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes had models wait in a staircase for three hours to be considered for the show.

VIDEO: James Franco Denis Sexual Harassment Allegations Following Golden Globes Backlash

“It’s inconceivable to me that people have no regard for human decency or the lives and feelings of these girls, especially when too too many of these models are under the age of 18 and clearly not equipped to be here but god forbid well sacrifice anything or anyone for an exclusive right?” he wrote.

In his post, he also asked models to DM him with similar stories of harassment and has since openly spoken about the issue. He also teamed up with LVHM (the owner of Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton) to create guidelines that protect models.

Now, Scully is opening up about the allegations against Weber and Testino, and what could be next for the industry. “I was not caught off guard because I knew, and everyone in the industry knew this was coming. This has been going on long before Harvey Weinstein, and I think obviously the Weinstein thing jet-propelled it, which is a good thing, but it’s been the big talk,” Scully told Them.

Scully, who praised the models who came forward in an Instagram post, explained why the Times piece argues that young men are “particularly vulnerable.” He said, “Men make 1/8th of the money women do, so it’s just a much more disposable industry,” and added that the “well-being” of many male models is not the priority for certain agents.

Today is a devastating day. There are so many that did not want this day to come and so many that needed for this day to arrive. Nobody wins in this situation. You want so much to believe that the truly gifted, your heroes, the people you idolized, who shaped you, inspired you, seemed super human, made you dream and want to pursue yours could never be capable of something inconceivable, that they had to above such behavior. We now know that none of them are above the law. My admiration goes out to all of those who bravely chose speak up. Lavely & Singer how dare you in such “typical" fashion put the people who told their stories on trial to distract from the issue. The classic questioning the mental health, the disgruntled employee, shaming someone for posing for nudes. These statements are insulting and reek of guilt. I began my career with Jason, Taber and Ryan all of who Im in touch with to this day. They have moved on, to new careers, to be husbands and fathers. Not one of them had anything to gain from re-living a painful experience for no reason. The difference is unlike then, today we collectively have the choice to speak and no longer remain silent. The thing that those who abuse never seem to understand is that your action took something from us. While you go back to your lives because your power gave you protection, we become two people. The person we were before the “incident" and the one after. Thats what you leave us with. We don’t get a second chance to be whole. I often wonder what path my life would have if what happened to me never had. Would my life have been better? Worse? Ill never know the answer to that question. Think about how that feels to live with. How could you not understand that before you decided to exert your power and cross a line that would change the course of someones life forever? Im sad because I and this industry have all lost something today. Im sad it was these people. It may sound superficial but all of those images that I grew up on, so passionately devoured, that formed my eye, made me dream and shaped my career all of a sudden went hollow. But this should not end here. Today should be the beginning.

A post shared by james scully (@jamespscully) on

He continued to explain why the Times piece is just the beginning. “If fashion is going to have this moment—which, there are so many people who don’t want it to, and others who think it needs to—it is the tip of the iceberg,” he said, explaining insiders like stylists, other photographers, and hairdressers are keeping mum on a lot of inequality.

RELATED: Aziz Ansari Responds to Allegations of Sexual Misconduct with 23-Year-Old Woman

“This is not the time to sit silent—you need to say what you’re going to say,” he said, moving on to recount his own experience of assault. “So I empathize with every person and I’m in awe of the people who just put it out there. This took 25 years, and if Harvey Weinstein didn’t happen, this all would have taken 10 years longer. It’s one of the reasons I spoke up in the first place, because I couldn’t take one more minute of it because I thought, I can walk away. But I can’t walk away knowing I didn’t try.”

Scully added that he’s optimistic for the future, hoping these stories elicit change. While he does think more stylists and casting directors will be accused—“a lot of those people are so young that a lot of them came into this business only knowing this kind of behavior—he credits organizations like The Model Alliance for setting up measures to protect models.

Specifically, the Alliance, founded by Sara Ziff, is where models can go after suffering from assault or harassment. “Now, the tables are slowly turning. Her support is growing, and hopefully it will be the standard bearer of how the business works,” he said. “And the fact that she’s now getting real support from girls like Karlie Kloss and Karen Elson—then those kinds of people speak out and support you, that really opens the door.”

You May Like