Celebrity and fashion photographer Mario Testino is accused of sexual harassment and assault by several male models and three photo assistants, according to a lengthy report by the New York Times. Many of his accusers went on the record with the Times and provided their names.
"Sexual harassment was a constant reality," Roman Barrett told the Times. Barrett worked as a photo assistant to Testino in the 1990s. "He misbehaved in hotel rooms, the backs of cars and on first-class flights. Then things would go back to normal, and that made you feel gaslighted," said Barrett. Barrett also alleges that Testino masturbated in front of him.
The Times also details how Testino would use his power to obtain access to nude male models. "If you wanted to work with Mario, you needed to do a nude shoot at the Chateau Marmont," male model Jason Fedele said to the Times. "All the agents knew that this was the thing to excel or advance your career." During these nude shoots, Testino allegedly engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior towards the models.
Another model, Ryan Locke, was cast in a campaign for Gucci during Tom Ford's helm. Testing was photographing Locke, when "he shuts the door and locks it. Then he crawls on the bed, climbs on top of me and says, ‘I’m the girl, you’re the boy.’ I went at him, like, you better get away. I threw the towel on him, put my clothes on and walked out."
Testino, through his lawyers, has denied all allegations, saying that the accusers "cannot be considered reliable sources." They called Barrett a disgruntled former employee. "I was pushed around, overworked, underpaid and sexually harassed daily. That’s why I was disgruntled," said Barrett in response.
The #MeToo movement hasn't just engulfed entertainment, media, and politics, the reckoning has come for the fashion industry as well. Photographer Terry Richardson, long accused of harassing and assaulting female models, was blacklisted by Condé Nast, Hearst, and labels such as Valentino and Bulgari. Additionally, photographer Bruce Weber responded to two allegations of sexual assault. Fashion should not be left out of the conversation — particularly when models tend to be vulnerable to predators in the industry.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).