New York Times investigative piece published earlier today has accused elite fashion photographers Mario Testino (pictured) and Bruce Weber of sexual misconduct, with dozens of male models coming forward to accuse the pair of “coercive sexual behaviour” as well as “groping” and other inappropriate contact.

Bruce Weber has shot campaigns for names like Calvin KleinRalph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch. Last year, models Jason Boyce and Mark Ricketson sued him for sexual assault, and the Times piece features input from fifteen current and former models, all of whom have similar stories about working with him.

The men recall private sessions in which Weber would ask them to strip down and lead them through breathing and “energy” exercises, in which they would touch both themselves and the photographer. One claimed that Weber put his fingers in his mouth, and added that they didn’t have sex but there was “a lot of molestation” and touching.

Mario Testino has been described as “the world’s most prolific magazine and fashion trade photographer” – his work has appeared in VogueVanity FairV Magazine and GQ. He was presented with an honorary Order of the British Empire in 2014, and some of his most famous portraits are of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

According to today’s Times article, 13 former personal assistants and models who worked with Testino dating back to the 1990s claim that he subjected them to “sexual advances that in some cases included groping and masturbation.” One recalled a shoot at which he was “aggressive and flirtatious” and at one point climbed on top of him in a bed and said “I’m the girl, you’re the boy.”

In a statement via his lawyer, Bruce Weber said that he is “completely shocked and saddened” by the allegations, and has denied them “absolutely.” A law firm representing Testino said that it had spoken to “former employees” who were “shocked” and “could not confirm the claims.”

In a piece published this morning, Vogue’s powerful editor Anna Wintour said that publisher Condé Nast is putting its working relationship with the photographers on hold, saying:  

“Today, allegations have been made against Bruce Weber and Mario Testino, stories that have been hard to hear and heartbreaking to confront. Both are personal friends of mine who have made extraordinary contributions to Vogue and many other titles at Condé Nast over the years, and both have issued objections or denials to what has emerged. I believe strongly in the value of remorse and forgiveness, but I take the allegations very seriously, and we at Condé Nast have decided to put our working relationship with both photographers on hold for the foreseeable future.”

Source: New York Times
Image: Getty Images / Kevin Mazur