Although Harvey Weinstein is synonymous with Hollywood, a new report published by The Los Angeles Times details how he used his connections in the fashion world to gain access to models. To date, at least ten former and current models including Cara Delevingne have accused Weinstein of various forms of sexual misconduct.
According to the Times, Weinstein became involved in the fashion world in the early 2000s when designers and other fashion moguls expressed interest in partnering with celebrities. He later served as a producer on the reality series Project Runway.
A dozen people in the fashion industry told the outlet that Weinstein used his fashion ventures as "a pipeline to women...models, oftentimes young and working overseas far from home, were particularly vulnerable."
Former model Zoë Brock told the Times that, in a 1998 incident, she thinks men connected to Weinstein purposely sat her next to him at a dinner party in Cannes. "Someone put me there next to him — that was on purpose. I am pretty sure that there are a lot of people that would like to sit next to Harvey Weinstein,” said Brock. "So why was it me?"
Later that evening, Brock says she ended up in a hotel room with Weinstein where he stood in front of her naked and asked for a massage.
Weinstein, who married designer Georgina Chapman in 2007, reportedly worked "behind the scenes" to help her launch the Marchesa brand and thereby made new connections in the fashion world. Around the same time, Weinstein Co. and Hilco Consumer Capital bought the American fashion house Halston and Weinstein became a member of the company's board.
Weinstein was also reportedly displeased when Project Runway didn't place enough focus on models. "He kept asking: ‘Where’s my model show?'" a former employee told the Times. "He wouldn’t drop it." As a result, producers created an awkward competition within the show that required designers to pick the model they found most appealing. "That was designed as a vestigial element for Harvey," the employee said.
Several women who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct say he used Project Runway and his fashion ties in order to secure meetings with them. Lucia Evans told The New Yorker that Weinstein told her she'd "be great in Project Runway" before allegedly forcing her to perform oral sex.
Weinstein's behaviour has been described as an "open secret" in Hollywood and sources told the Times that the same was true in the fashion industry. Some are hopeful that the tide will turn in light of the Weinstein allegations. Brock says that she hopes her story will inspire change: "I hope that from this moment on, young girls, from every country, start to value themselves as more than the objects the industry has always treated them as."