Condé Nast unveiled a new series of rules, which have been in the works since October, to protect models from sexual harassment. The new code of conduct will go into effect later this month, timely considering the recent New York Times report detailing myriad sexual misconduct allegations against fashion photographers Mario Testino and Bruce Weber. According to a separate announcement, Condé Nast has cut ties with the two.
Condé Nast’s new policies institute several important changes: the company will no longer work with models under 18, drugs and alcohol will not be permitted on photo shoots, photographers cannot use Condé Nast sets for any personal photography work once a commissioned shoot is completed, and any nudity, sexually suggestive poses, lingerie, swimwear, and/or simulated drug or alcohol use must be approved by the model. In addition, there will be an anonymous reporting line for any violations of this new code of conduct.
The Model Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates for the labor rights of fashion industry employees, is also working to effect change with a Proposal for Sexual Respect in the Fashion, Entertainment and Media Industries. The program would function as an independent organization and serve as a watchdog and advisor on best practices. Industry groups and businesses would choose to affiliate with the program, thereby bolstering their reputation.
These strides—that obviously, should have been taken long ago—towards safe workplaces in fashion are radical changes in an industry that has often rewarded photographers for creating party-like atmospheres involving drugs and alcohol at photo shoots, models for keeping quiet about the industry’s abuse of power and agents for pressuring their young subjects into unprofessional situations.