Testino and Weber Show #Metoo Isn't Here Just For Women

Other | Friday 26th January 2018 | Hanna

The force of nature that is the #metoo-campaign has not only taken casualties in Hollywood and government but also in the fashion industry. Mario Testino and Bruce Weber, both known as the absolute staples of high-end photography, with too many covers on too many fashion magazines to count – Testino even photographed the royal family – have fallen in the carnage.

In the world of high fashion, it appears to be, like it is (or is it too soon to say was?) in Hollywood, a well-known secret that sexual harassment takes place almost routinely. After all, it was only last year that Terry Richardson was suspended due to allegations after years of rumours and in 2015 the scandal of the former American Apparel CEO Dov Charney made headlines as he had to leave the company after his sexual relationships with models and employees and other inappropriate behaviour came to light.

Gucci campaign by Mario Testino

These instances may seem anecdotal and hardly connected, and some may hesitate to call it a trend within fashion. But I’d say two is company and three is a party. 

Even more importantly the instances of Mario Testino and Bruce Weber prove, the fight against sexual harassment does not draw the battle lines along the lines of men vs. women. The influx of male models, coming out with stories about sexual harassment by Testino and Weber, show that this is a matter of abuse of power. In these situations the abuse is gross as in a cutthroat competitive world of high-fashion, figures like Testino and Weber hold almost God-like status. These men used to hold the keys to the covers of Vogue and Vanity Fair and huge commercial campaigns such as Versace and Chanel. Much like with Weinstein, many must have feared they were almost too big to fall.

The revelations about the photographers have almost happened in the sidelines of the main discussion, but they bring an interesting side out of the #metoo-phenomenon.

Men can be equally vulnerable to sexual abuse and they may feel deterred from the general discussion on harassment since it often is promoted as a women-only issue. When unchecked power manifests as abuse, anyone in a weaker position can be at the receiving end of that abuse.

Photo by Bruce Weber