Mario Testino & Bruce Weber
Dozens of male models have accused Mario Testino and Bruce Weber – two of the world’s leading celebrity photographers – of sexual exploitation.
Testino and Weber are known for their nude homoerotic imagery and iconic fashion shoots as well as for photographing a-list stars; from Madonna to Kate Moss to Princess Diana.
For decades, their often edgy and provocative work has been featured in glossy fashion and lifestyles magazines such as Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, Elle and Rolling Stone.
The two men’s legacies and careers are now facing ruin following a series of allegations against them, going back to the 1990s, published by The New York Times.
Fifteen male models have levelled allegations of sexual impropriety against Weber, while 13 male assistants and models have come out against Testino. The alleged victims claim that they either submitted to the inappropriate conduct and unnecessary nudity or faced an end to their careers.
According to The Times, Weber, an American, is accused of pressuring models to take off their clothes and of touching them inappropriately during so called “breathing exercises”.
Testino, 63, who is Peruvian, is accused of making sexual advances to former assistants and models, including engaging in incidents of groping and masturbation.
The photographers have denied the allegations. “I have used common breathing exercises and professionally photographed thousands of nude models over my career, but never touched anyone inappropriately,” insisted Webber, 71, in a statement.
In a post on Instagram, Webber – who is married to a woman, film producer Nan Bush – said: “I unequivocally deny these charges and will vigorously defend myself. I have spent my career capturing the human spirit through photographs and am confident that, in due time, the truth will prevail.”
Testino’s law firm told The Times that the individuals who had accused the photographer “cannot be considered reliable sources”. His social media pages remain silent on the controversy.
Testino was recently in the news for his photo shoot of tennis champion Serena Williams and her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr for the cover of American Vogue’s February edition.
The artist was also reportedly in the running to be appointed the official photographer of the upcoming wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. That is now very unlikely to happen.
The Times article led to an immediate backlash from the fashion world. Conde Nast, the company that publishes magazine titles like Vogue, announced that it will no longer work with the two men.
In a statement, Vogue editor in chief, Anna Wintour, said that Testino and Weber “are personal friends of mine”.
She continued: “I believe strongly in the value of remorse and forgiveness 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.”
American fashion designer, Michael Kors, also said that, “in light of the seriousness of these accusations, we will not be working with Mr. Testino on future advertising campaigns”.
Pictures by Jorge Barrios (Mario Testino) & Christopher Macsurak (Bruce Weber)