Since the Harvey Weinstein scandal rocked Hollywood, shaking loose countless stories of abuse in the movie business, the dark side of the fashion industry has been cast into the spotlight as well. A bombshell report in The New York Times this Saturday detailed multiple male models’ accounts of sexual misconduct at the hands of renowned fashion photographers Bruce Weber and Mario Testino.
Fifteen current and retired male models spoke to The Times about their experiences working with Weber—best known for his iconic campaigns for Calvin Klein and Abercrombie & Fitch—and detailed a disturbing pattern of sexual exploitation.
“The men recalled, with remarkable consistency, private sessions with Mr. Weber in which he asked them to undress and led them through breathing and ‘energy’ exercises. Models were asked to breathe and to touch both themselves and Mr. Weber, moving their hands wherever they felt their ‘energy.’ Often, Mr. Weber guided their hands with his own,” The Times writes.
In the article, model Robyn Sinclair elaborates, “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.”
Similarly, 13 models to and former assistants of Mario Testino, a longtime favorite of both Vogue and the Royals, described to The Times how the photographer had “subjected them to sexual advances that in some cases included groping and masturbation.”
The article goes on to elaborate on the experiences of many of the men, who share harrowing accounts of exploitation and sexual predation.
Via a statement from his lawyer, Weber defended himself, saying, “I’m completely shocked and saddened by the outrageous claims being made against me, which I absolutely deny.”
The law firm that represents Testino, Lavely & Singer, meanwhile, went on the offensive, challenging the reputation and credibility of the accusers.