The photographer Terry Richardson has blogged that he is really hurt to have been falsely accused of 'insensitivity and misconduct' by the model Rie Rasmussen.
The view of the man in the street would presumably be that models make the decision as to how far they will go in a photographic session and the photographer decides how far he will ask them to go. End of story … if the playing field was level.
But it rarely is. Many models at the beginning of their careers are young, insecure and possibly even virginal. Photographers are some of the very few men in fashion who might be straight. And certainly there are predators among them, wishing not just to sleep with models but also in their photographs to patronise and possibly debase them. And their allies in this are the people who should be protecting models: the agents, stylists and editors who work with them.
And I am sure that many do offer protection but, in the desperate efforts to be 'edgy' and shocking that most of these people seem to feel are essential for commercial success, others seem to inch closer to blatant titillation almost daily. Nudes on the covers of fashion and lifestyle magazines are the cheapest form of selling through sensationalism, and yet they succeed; simulated highly sexual scenarios – a genre introduced by Tom Ford at Gucci several years ago – do the same for top brands through their advertising campaigns.
Revealingly, the main culprits are the not-yet-household names (and probably never likely to be) in photography and the titles that will never have the general clout of Vogue, Harpers or Elle. In other words, the ones that try to keep afloat by inventing a type of 'cool' that speaks only to the young, few of whom can afford the magazines or the clothes they feature and would probably find few opportunities to wear them.
I often feel that fashion has become an incestuous maze of crazed and immature imaginations trying to grab attention by being naughty. I certainly know that the stylists, editors and photographers who create these pictures live their lives well removed from the things they promulgate. And that doesn't just give credibility to the accusations of exploitation; in the way it patronises, it robs anything they produce of any claims that could be made for its creative value.