Last week, the Telegraph broke the news of an internal memo written by Condé Nast International’s executive vice president, James Woolhouse, announcing that the company will no longer work with photographer Terry Richardson due to his longstanding history of sexual assault allegations. Woolhouse’s memo instructed that any work already commissioned from Richardson but not yet published should be “killed or substituted with other material”. Condé Nast International, which publishes global editions of major magazines such as Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, and W, has now released an official statement denouncing abuse within the industry and calling on other publishers, trade organizations, and talent representatives to help put in place anti-harrassment programs.
In the wake of Condé Nast’s decision, major fashion brands such as Bulgari, Valentino, and Diesel have also announced that they will cut ties with Richardson. In addition, New York Assemblywoman Nily Rozic introduced legislation that will provide models with protection against harassment of all forms in the industry. The bill was developed and finally introduced last week after months of research in collaboration with the Model Alliance, an organization founded by former model Sarah Ziff that advocates for labor rights of models and other employees of the fashion industry. Richardson denies all allegations of abuse and, according to a spokesperson, is “disappointed” with the actions taken against him.
Condé Nast’s ban is a timely response to outcry against Harvey Weinstein, whose alleged systematic abuse of numerous actresses and employees—his number of victims has reached 82, according to a list compiled by Asia Argento—went unchecked for decades. The denunciation of Weinstein sparked a firestorm of much-needed conversation surrounding sexual harassment and assault, as well as the myriad ways in which society turns a blind eye to this mistreatment. In response to a tweet by Alyssa Milano, survivors around the world shared their stories under the hashtag #MeToo, reviving an anti-harassment campaign originally started offline by activist Tarana Burke ten years ago. Condemnation of Richardson, though certainly a step in the right direction, comes too little too late considering the heavily-publicized allegations against him that have surfaced over the years. In 2010, model Jamie Peck wrote a piece for The Gloss describing his predatory behavior during a photo shoot. Following Jezebel writer Jenna Sauer’s coverage of Peck’s article, scores of models, stylists, fashion writers, and modeling bookers came forward to Sauer describing their own stories of abuse. Since then, models including Coco Rocha, Rie Rasmussen, Felice Fawn, and Charlotte Waters have also spoken out against Richardson.
Sexual misconduct no doubt occurs in every industry, to both men and women. As entertainment and fashion take a stand against Weinstein and Richardson—and more recently, Kevin Spacey and James Toback—we hope that industries across the board follow suit and take strides to protect their employees from abuse.