Two veteran celebrity photographers are the focus of a new sexual misconduct expose from The New York Times.
Mario Testino and Bruce Weber are being accused of sexual harassment by dozens of male assistants and male models. According to the publication, Testino is being accused of such acts as unwanted sexual advances, groping, and masturbation.
Hugo Tillman, a former assistant of Testino’s, said he “was often made to feel uncomfortable on shoots” and was asked, “to massage Mario in front of other assistants, models and fashion editors.”
In subsequent encounters, Testino allegedly both tried to kiss Tillman during one incident and threw Tillman onto a hotel room bed and got on top of him during a business trip.
Testino’s lawyers told The Times the allegations were made by people who “cannot be considered reliable sources.” Furthermore, the lawyers insist the photographer’s brother, who supposedly walked in on the alleged encounter between Testino and Tillman in the hotel room, “is adamant that no such incident ever took place”
Photographer Weber, who frequently shot nude models, was accused of leading “breathing exercises” that resulted in groping and coercive sexual behaviour.
Weber personally denied the allegations in a statement to the publication, saying he was “completely shocked and saddened by the outrageous claims being made against me, which I absolutely deny.”
“I have used common breathing exercises and professionally photographed thousands of nude models over my career, but never touched anyone inappropriately,” continued Weber. “Given my life’s work, these twisted and untrue allegations are truly disheartening. I’ve been taking pictures for over 40 years and have the utmost respect for everyone I’ve ever photographed. I would never, ever, try to hurt anyone or prevent someone from succeeding — it’s just not in my character.”
In a statement shared on Vogue‘s website, Conde Nast artistic director Anna Wintour said she was putting her “working relationship” with the two photographers “on hold” in light of the new allegations.
“The past several months have been an extraordinary time of reckoning and change, and I, like so many others, have been astonished by the courage of those who have come forward to tell stories of sexual misconduct,” wrote Wintour. “Abuse of power has gone on for too long in so many places — including in Washington, in Hollywood, in broadcasting, journalism, Silicon Valley, and last but not least, in fashion, where many young women and men have spoken up about manipulation and coercion on go-sees, on shoots, and in other working environments.”
Continuing, “Even as we stand with victims of abuse and misconduct, we must also hold a mirror up to ourselves — and ask if we are doing our utmost to protect those we work with so that unacceptable conduct never happens on our watch. Sometimes that means addressing the fact that such behaviour can occur close to home.”
Wintour described Testino and Weber as “personal friends of mine who have made extraordinary contributions to Vogue and many other titles at Conde Nast over the years.”
“I believe strongly in the value of remorse and forgiveness,” she explained, “but I take the allegations very seriously, and we at Conde Nast have decided to put our working relationship with both photographers on hold for the foreseeable future.”
Testino recently shot Serena Williams’ February Vogue cover and has photographed Prince William and Princess Kate, as well as the late Princess Diana.
Weber is perhaps best known for his sexually provocative Calvin Klein ads in the ’90s.