NEW YORK, NY December 1, 2017
It took years of built-up accusations and a sexual assault scandal of unprecedented magnitude (we’re referring, of course, to Harvey Weinstein’s public downfall) but finally (some of) the fashion industry is taking a stance on notoriously predatory photographer Terry Richardson’s long-contested behavior.
“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.”
For Condé’s American titles, this was easily done — the majority haven’t hired Richardson since 2014; Vogue began the trend back in 2010. W’s November 2017 issue, on stands now, will be the last to feature the photographer’s work. As Business of Fashion’s Chantal Fernandez and Tamison O’Connor stipulate, newly appointed W editor-in-chief Stefano Tonchi hired Richardson for the shoot — it was not Edward Enninful’s doing.
Richardson was reportedly “disappointed” to hear of the Condé ban. “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,” a representative for the photographer told the Telegraph. “Terry is disappointed to hear about this [Condé Nast International] email especially because he has previously addressed these old stories.”
Today, Valentino, which routinely uses Richardson for its campaigns, seconded Condé’s motion — likely to save face. Just last week, the brand sparked a social media furor when it posted its Richardson-lensed Resort 2018 campaign on Instagram. The brand was quick to remove Richardson’s name from the credits, but given that talk of sexual misconduct in the film and fashion industries has reached what seems an all-time high, the brand apparently deemed further PR action necessary.
“Valentino’s last campaign with photographer Terry Richardson was shot in July 2017 — there are no plans on a future campaign and, of course, take these allegations against Terry Richardson seriously,” a spokesperson for the Italian megabrand told the Daily Beast.
Neither Condé Nast nor Valentino — nor Bulgari, which denounced Richardson in the same Daily Beast article — is the first big-name fashion brand to sever ties with the photographer: Aldo, Target and H&M dropped him back in 2014, when said allegations first came to light. (That year, New York Magazine published a profile of Richardson titled “Is Terry Richardson an Artist or a Predator?” which is once again #trending.)
Condé Nast, Valentino and Bulgari’s declarations — along with (if it passes) New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic’s proposal to amend the state’s anti-discrimination laws and hold designers, photographers and retailers accountable for any abuses models suffer on their watch — are slim but encouraging silver linings to the massive Harvey Weinstein storm cloud and the history of sanctioned sexual harassment it represents.