I would say there’s a general consensus that women care more about fashion than men do. For this reason, it’s interesting to look at how much power males have in the fashion industry. There have been successful women – Donatella Versace, Coco Chanel, Miuccia Prada, Donna Karan and Ann Demeulemeester to name a few, but they have historically been outnumbered by men. The industry as a whole is female-heavy, with 70% of fashion school graduates being women. These women just aren’t climbing the ranks the same way as their male counterparts. Alexander Wang, Karl Lagerfeld, Riccardo Tisci, Christopher Kane, Michael Kors, Alexander McQueen, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Martin Margiela and Yohji Yamamoto. These are just a few male fashion designers that I can think of off the top of my head, but I’m sure Google would provide a plethora for you.
What I want to talk about in this article is the abuse of power some of these industry males are privy to. Feel free to disagree with me, but I’m going to make the sweeping statement that fashion caters more to women than to men. There are more options for women, and therefore more sales made to women, and more female models. Fashion is a realm for women ruled by men. And sometimes these men take full advantage of their power in such a lucrative business.
If you don’t know a lot about fashion or art, you can probably still recognize Terry Richardson, or at least some of his work. Uncle Terry has worked for lauded magazines like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Rolling Stone, i-D and Vanity Fair to name a few. He has shot campaigns for massive companies like Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford, Sisley and Marc Jacobs. Labelled as a portrait photographer as well as a fashion photographer, he is responsible for everyone’s favourite celebrity portraits, and even some of their music videos. (“Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus and “Do What U Want” by Lady Gaga & R Kelly to name two.)
Queen Bey shot by Uncle Terry // SOURCE
My favourite Sad Girl by Terry // SOURCE
Miley looking a little out of it with Terry // SOURCE
This is a man with not only credentials in the fashion world, but relationships with some of the most powerful celebrities in Hollywood. His earlier work (books Kibosh and Terryworld) often dealt with graphic and gritty sexual images, both simulated and real, but now he’s mostly known for rubbing shoulders with the brightest stars out. Until recently, when a lot of controversy around his conduct with models has surfaced.
This controversy isn’t exactly new (two lawsuits filed against Richardson took place in 2005) but it’s only now that companies are starting to distance themselves from him. Models Rie Rasmussen, Charlotte Waters and Jamie Peck have all commented on Terry’s behavior with models. Terry was quoted in 2004 saying “I don’t like to exploit anybody. Everyone has fun on my shoots.” But it doesn’t seem like some of the people he’s worked with would agree. Even Terry himself becomes contradictory when you hear other quotes he’s spouted, like “"It's not who you know, it's who you blow. I don't have a hole in my jeans for nothing." Here’s a timeline of the allegations against Richardson if you’re interested.
Just Cavalli, H&M and Aldo have stated that they have no future plans to work with Richardson and he has no editorial credits with W magazine anymore, but this is a pretty small slice of the fashion world Richardson works in. I guess it’s hard to pin someone like Richardson down, when he has models like Charlotte Free and Sky Ferreira speaking out for him, and he’s photographed the president. Tampon tea, unsought nudity and the illusion of comfort – it doesn’t matter. All of this certainly hasn’t put Playboy off working with Richardson; he’s shot a whole edition for the publication, set to be released in 2015.
Barack :+( // SOURCE
Another male affiliated with Richardson that’s recently been threatened of being fired due to misconduct is Dov Charney, American Apparel’s CEO. The company’s board wrote a letter addressing this misconduct, which included allegations of misuse of company funds and sexual harassment. The letter reads that the board “recently learned that you presented significant severance packages to numerous former employees to ensure that your misconduct vis a vis these employees would not subject you to personal liability.”
American Apparel is notorious for their “sexually charged” workplace, and nowhere is this more evident than in their advertising. AA ads feature young models who are often glassy-eyed and appear almost drugged, in provocative positions with next to no clothing on. Most of the time it’s hard to recognise what it is that the company is even trying to sell you. By showing me a girls pubes through your company’s barely-there cotton underwear, am I supposed to want to buy the thigh-high socks you’re purportedly advertising?
This "NOW OPEN" ad was coincidentally shot by Richardson.
This article provides a better timeline of Charney’s misconduct than I could in the space left in this piece. After reading through that, process this piece of information: he’s back at work already. As a “strategic consultant” while the board reviews the accusations against him.
One thing’s for sure, fashion is a man’s world. When you rule a kingdom the way some of these men do, you can do whatever you want with your subjects – even if that means degrading them and getting away with it because of your status. For some of you reading this, what I’ve talked about isn’t news, but I think it’s important to highlight this shit for people who aren’t aware. Next time you’re on Tumblr and you click to reblog a sweet Terry Richardson portrait of a celeb, think about the gross rape culture you’re perpetuating. I’ll round this piece off with a link to TakePart’s gender swap with AA advertisements/Terry Richardson shoots. It may be a man’s world at the moment, but it sure as shit doesn’t have to stay that way.
Jayden wrote this while remembering that time she spent $80 on a chiffon top at American Apparel and getting a little more mad than the shit in this article makes her.
Header image sourced from here.