Male ad execs don’t think sexual harassment is a big deal in the fashion industry

2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party

The Harvey Weinstein scandal does feel like a fundamental shift in how we talk about harassment, abuse and assault within the entertainment industry. What’s interesting is that the conversation is being extended in some interesting ways, so it’s not simply about a predatory Hollywood producer raping, harassing and abusing actresses, it’s about the larger culture of abuse across many industries. Many in the fashion industry have been wanting to have this conversation too, because in fashion and modeling, the women and men being preyed upon are often younger and just as likely to “stay silent” about abuse out of fear that they will ruin their careers if they speak out about a photographer or stylist or makeup artist or ad executive.

Women’s Wear Daily interviewed four ad executives – all men – to see if they thought abuse, harassment and assault happened within their industry. The amount of see-no-evil, hear-no-evil from these dudes is… the reason why the conversation is so vital. And it’s fascinating to see two different executives bring up Terry Richardson out of nowhere. Richardson is a known pervert and a photographer who has been accused of abusing, assaulting and harassing young models. But these ad guys have worked with him, sure, and they’ve heard the “rumors” but still, they’ve never seen anything, okay? You can read read the full piece here. Some highlights:

This guy can’t speak to rumors: Ad honcho David Lipman said sexual harassment never occurred on his set. As a father and husband, he said he’s very aware of the environment he’s creating on a set. “My sets have always been full of life, fun, exaggeration, crazy, lunacy and creativity, but never adultery or harassment or anything like that that I was aware of. Even in those crazy days, I don’t remember a girl getting abused. There were crazy moments of laughter and kookiness, but nothing I can remember on a set that I know of that ever happened. I know of stories, sure, I’ve heard the stories. I’m in the business so we hear the stories,” he said. Asked if there were any photographers who are known for more sexually charged environments, he said, “There are the rumors, but I can’t speak to the rumors.”

Terry Richardson didn’t abuse anyone in front of me: Lipman recalled going to St. Barths with Peter Lindbergh and shooting Amber Valletta for the first time for David Yurman. “We were so joyous and celebratory, and I don’t think anything happened and we were worried about one thing — do great pictures,” Lipman said. “We did crazy antics to get crazy pictures, but never abused anybody. I’ve worked with so many photographers. I worked with Terry Richardson. Terry never abused anybody when I worked with him. And we laughed, but he never abused anybody,” he insisted. “I wish I could give you a scandalous story, but it didn’t exist,” he said.

Dude #2 has never seen anything: Charles DeCaro, co-creative director of Laspata DeCaro, a New York-based ad agency, whose founding partners do the photography and styling, said about sexual harassment: “It doesn’t exist on my set. We’ve made this very sheltered existence. That dynamic is not prevalent on our sets whatsoever.” He also has heard stories about harassment that has taken place on fashion shoots or on the runway. “It doesn’t have to be sexual harassment, it’s just harassment, period. It’s the fact that someone has to fit into this stereotypical string-bean, swizzle-stick vision of a stylist is just so bad,” said DeCaro, adding that it’s gotten worse. “We get samples from designers, and who can fit into this?” he said. “Fortunately, we work with girls who are healthy, they eat and they take care of themselves and are very health-conscious. By and large, it’s a little frightening when you hear what happens at the runway shows and what happens on other sets.”

Dude #3 witnessed Terry Richardson doing something, but it’s fine: Neil Kraft, owner and creative director at KraftWorks, said, “I think sexual harassment exists in every business that remotely touches pretty women and men. It’s out there. I’ve only witnessed really bad things once in 25 years. The difference between my kind of thing and a runway model is we travel with the models. We go to Hawaii and travel all over the world.” He said that during one of his campaign shoots, he walked in on Terry Richardson having sex with a girl in a bathroom. “I don’t know what the relationship was,” Kraft said. “It was during the day and he came back to work a half-hour later. It’s fairly well-known that the models tend to sleep with the assistants. That’s more youthful attraction. Herb Ritts was known to use his boyfriends as models. They were guys he was attracted to,” he alleged.

[From Women’s Wear Daily]

It’s SO INTERESTING that two different ad execs specifically name-checked Terry Richardson, isn’t it? But it’s even more interesting that this WWD seems to perfectly encapsulate the mindset of the “boys club” that these ad executives inhabit. A similar boys’ club existed in Hollywood – most men knew that Harvey Weinstein was a rampant womanizer, a dog who was constantly pursuing women. Many of them had heard “the rumors” but hey, they didn’t see anything so he must be a good guy, right? Also: after several of Terry Richardson’s victims have come forward to be named as his victims, I don’t think anyone should refer to the accusations against Richardson as merely “rumors.” They aren’t rumors. They are accusations, allegations and victim testimony.

OHWOW and HTC celebrate the release of 'Terrywood' with Terry Richardson

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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53 Responses to “Male ad execs don’t think sexual harassment is a big deal in the fashion industry”

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  1. Sixer says:

    Colour me surprised. Not.

    • Bettyrose says:

      It must be a huge relief to the models! Hey ladies, no one gets groped or body shamed on set today! (but quid pro quo happens off set, so it doesn’t really fall into the category discussed here.)

      • teacakes says:

        @Bettyrose – exactly.

        Part of me wonders whether WWD was obliquely giving these men just enough rope to hang themselves with and whether this was a deliberate attempt to highlight the ‘boys’ club’ controlling the money in fashion and their mentality. Because as countless models have spoken out over the years, we know sure as hell that ‘nothing bad ever happens!’ is NOT the case.

      • SpankFD says:

        The social science research is clear: expecting victims to “stand up to bullies” doesn’t work. And sexual harassment is a particular form of bullying. No, the bullying stops when the community 1. sets up the expectation that bullying is unacceptable and 2. hold people accountable for their actions. Individual members – leaders – need to stand up for others because willful ignorance doesn’t cut it.

        Upper management is *legally* responsible for what employees do. There is no, “D’oh, I didn’t go down to the shoot to watch TR harass everyone, and so I didn’t know.” It’s their *job* to know. And insurance companies are definitely paying attention to these payouts. Soon there will be clauses in contracts limiting payouts for such activities, which will shift the financial burden to the guilty parties.

    • Danielle says:

      No sexual harassment occurred in front of me, so it didn’t happen! Seriously!?!? That’s the MO! No witnesses. Dumb*asses.

  2. ell says:

    the fashion industry is just as bad, if not worse, than hollywood when it comes to sexual assault and harassment. unfortunately i have firsthand experience from when i was working as a model in my teens.

    • Ce2495 says:

      I’m with you on that ELL. I been working as a designer the past 14 years. I had a few bad experiences but the worst was with the owner of the company I worked for when I was 19 and starting my career. One day he corner me when I was coming out of the bathroom, next time he was behind me when I bent to pick a box and told me that’s the way he likes to see me. After that I try to avoid him all while looking for another job. Sometimes I was successful and others not. I felt so powerless and kept quiet because I was afraid of being blacklisted and labeled “troublemaker”. Even to this day I feel so guilty for not standing up for myself and reporting him.

      • ell says:

        i’m so sorry about this. i have quite a few similar stories, and it’s heartbreaking that we’re the ones feeling guilty. no one should have to go through this, and then fear to lose their job.

        on instagram they started a #myjobshouldnotincludeabuse and lots of people in the fashion industry have started telling their stories and discussing it. abuse and harassment in this industry is just so common.

  3. the_blonde_one says:

    Ugh, I have seen, unintentionally, WAY TOO MANY pictures of Terry Richardson’s dick, Terry Richardson screwing models etc etc. Now any time I click on a website and see his face I have to REALLY contemplate as to whether it’s a website that is going to have those pictures if I click to read the article. I literally cringe every time I see him.

  4. AngieB says:

    Laughter and kookiness. Just ugh.

  5. Lucy says:

    This has “ABUSE” written all over it. One of the most powerful men in HW was just taken down. Sooner or later, the same will happen to Richardson.

    • Lilly says:

      Yup. And Louis C.K. as well. It’s like an avalanche that will bring them all down.

    • milla says:

      One can dream… he has been creeping for far too long and unlike in other industries, majoroty are underage girls and boys.

  6. Va Va Kaboom says:

    I’m shocked! Absolutely SHOCKED I say!!

    You mean men who use images of women as sexual objects that can be easily obtained, if you just buy this cologne/car/f*ing cheeseburger, as the bedrock of their industry don’t really care how those women are treated in the process? Who’d of thunk it, huh?

  7. minx says:


  8. poppy says:

    knowing more than one female ad executive (2 creatively run their respective agencies) it is offensive in the fact WWD interviewed NOT ONE WOMAN.
    heavily complicit, so worried about easing the concerns of the advertisers, both wwd and the industry. whatever will placate. 🤦🏻‍♂️

    can’t and won’t ask a woman.


    • lucy2 says:

      They also didn’t bother to interview any models, assistants, etc. OF COURSE three male head honchos are going to say everything’s fine! Did they expect them to say, “oh no, our sets are pretty dangerous, our models are harassed and assaulted pretty regularly”.
      Ask the women on set, ask the models, and the answer will be very different from the male executives protecting their brand.

  9. Nicole says:


  10. littlemissnaughty says:

    “As a father and husband” STOP IT.

    “I think sexual harassment exists in every business that remotely touches pretty women and men” NOOOOO.

    I feel like the entire issue has actually never been a secret or rumor in the fashion industry, has it? Haven’t models been speaking out on this for literally decades? About drugs on set, about the perils of travelling extensively as a teenager without parents present. About being photographed randomly while changing during shows? Am I imagining this? And Uncle Terry.

  11. cdnkitty says:

    It’s rampant in advertising too – clients can harass you and make you feel all sorts of gross, but they pay the bill and so even if you report it to your manager, nothing is done (in my experience). The same dynamic happens internally too – owner/operator’s making completely inappropriate remarks and sleeping with young, up and coming staff because they can.

    It’s a systemic cultural issue, not just fashion, advertising, hollywood, etc. It’s EVERYWHERE and it’s not ok.

    • ell says:

      i think the problem with for example the fashion industry, is that if you’re a model your commodity and your job is literally your body. they often treat you like a thing, both in terms of harassment and the things they think they can do and say to you, but also in the way they control you. it can be an incredibly dehumanising profession, especially given that most models start when they’re very very young.

      but i agree that yes, it’s everywhere.

      • cdnkitty says:

        I totally agree with you ell about any industry where your physicality is the product. When you are the product /talent, and need to make gains to keep a roof over your head, the opportunity for abuse is higher.

  12. Enough Already says:

    “[this is going to happen in any industry that] remotely touches pretty women and men”.
    *bangs head against wall*

    • Brian says:

      Maybe, if worded better, he means that any industry that revolves around the attractiveness of the people in it tends to be rife with sexual situations, wanted or unwanted. People are really dumb when it comes to superficial matters.

    • Plantpal says:

      I’m a plain looking, blue collar working woman. I have been harrassed at work. It does not stop at the models and actresses. It happens to “non-beautiful” people, too

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      That was my reaction too.

  13. Bug says:

    A horrible person and an inconsistent artist. I hope he pays for his disgusting abuses and becomes forgotten as a photographer very very soon. It always enrages me to see nice public figures working with him. Is it possible for a celebrity to do not get to know about all the allegations and the rumors on Richardson before collaborating with him? It is not a rethoric provocative question, I mean it.

  14. Ally says:

    Amber Valletta wrote this week that she has been subjected to inappropriate behaviour as a model and as an actress. I value her account more than the word of these succubuses.

    Let’s all recall for instance the crap that went down with John Casablancas (e.g. “dating” Stephanie Seymour when she was 16 and he was 41).

    Bottom line is: there are two facets to the entertainment industries. The gauzy, fun, aspirational images they generate (editorials, red carpets, award shows, ball gowns) and the industry of feeding fresh flesh to predators that is endemic underneath.

    • KBB says:

      I don’t know anything about David Lipman but his quotes are bizarre. The fact that he brought up her name is suspect to me. And to say “we would laugh, but no abuse occurred” and “we did crazy antics to get crazy pictures” is even more suspect. What does that even mean? It sounds like their “kookiness” was probably highly inappropriate.

    • st says:

      Isn’t it important to note that Stephanie Seymour’s parents approved of her relationship with John Casablancas? It’s in the Michael Gross book “Model.”

      • Ally says:

        That reflects on them, IMO, not the appropriateness of the relationship. She is not their object to provide for sexual favors. Polanski’s victim’s mother also sent her over to him unsupervised. I gather Seymour construed the relationship as okay and it continued into her adulthood. If she hadn’t experienced it that way, her parents’ collusion would compound the pain.

        Here’s Mariel Hemingway’s account of that dynamic with Woody Allen trying to get her to go to Paris with him when she was 18 (he flew to her house to convince her with her parents’ blessing):

        ‘According to an excerpt obtained by Fox News, the actress cautioned her parents “that I didn’t know what the [sleeping] arrangement was going to be [in Paris], that I wasn’t sure if I was even going to have my own room. Woody hadn’t said that. He hadn’t even hinted it. But I wanted them to put their foot down. They didn’t. They kept lightly encouraging me.”’

    • adastraperaspera says:

      And, a good time to remember that Casablancas was a long time friend of Trump and is actually the guy who inspired Trump to start Trump Models. This not about fashion, it is about procuring young women for old predators, and the traitor in the White House participates in and profits off this mess.

    • supersoft says:

      This is what i found on Wikipedia. Amber Valletta speaks out about her addiction, and i couldnt have more respect for her. And i like her Insta post. She is just brutally honest and humble.

  15. Katherine says:

    “So does it happen in your industry?” “Well, there is this guy, he totally didn’t do anything, not that I know of, I mean totally didn’t do it, there was this incident but who knows what the relationship was, wait, what was the question again?”

  16. Green_eyes says:

    Sorry I’m not sorry.. but men do not get to judge whether or not sexual harassment is a problem in the fashion industry… or any industry. Those that say it’s not a problem are part of the problem because 1. They either are the ones harassing or 2. They enable those who do harass.

    • Brian says:

      Men are also victims of abuse. I know, I am one. Your statement is offensive and myopic.

      • Plantpal says:

        Its these HUGE generalizations that are offensive and myopic. Brian, I’m sorry for your hurt

      • Green_eyes says:

        Brian I know men are victims of abuse as well. I’m referring to men such as these predators claiming there is no abuse problem. Those type of men are the problem. As for male victims, my spouse was a victim in a a catholic orphanage.. sadly no one is safe from a predator. But let’s be honest it’s the guilty who usually protest the loudest claiming all is fine. I’m so sorry you went thru abuse. I can empathize & think that’s why my spouse can empathize with me. I was raped at 18 by one of my bosses & at 25 right after surviving an F5 tornado and losing everything I own. I’ve been groped by men I trusted, stalked & almost killed. Sadly too may of us have horror stories. 🌹

  17. K says:

    I so, so, SO hope that Weinstein’s epic fall from grace empowers people to shut the fashion world’s own version down, too.

  18. teacakes says:

    Come on, fashion. Take down your own abusers next – and I will have massive respect for the fashion press if they take a leaf out of the NYT/New Yorker book and actually give the victims a platform to speak out, with names named, instead of only licking advertiser ass and being held hostage to the prospect of access. And this isn’t just rumours, eight years ago Sara Ziff made a documentary called Picture Me about the treatment of models in the industry and that was just completely disregarded.

    Uncle Terry (barf) needs to be first on the chopping block but the whole culture enabling him and people like him needs to go too. And models need to be unionised. The abuse needs to stop.

  19. CharlieBouquet says:

    This erased my happy. We blew up the air bed, popped corn and watched the Great Pumpkin last night.

  20. magnoliarose says:

    The problem in the modeling industry is that there it is very competitive and different levels are more susceptible to exploitation only because of money. The lure of innocent young pretty girls draws skeeves who take advantage of that.

    A typical story is a girl who has been told she should be a model. Usually, her parents have no clue about the industry and are excited that their daughter is going to be a model and think just because she is signed that means something more than it does. They go home and tell their friends their daughter is a model in New York because it sounds glamorous but have no idea that she isn’t very protected in an overcrowded crappy model apartment. She can end up owing the agency and making no money, in fact, the agency expects most of the girls to fail. Perfect prey because now she is desperate, lonely and rejection and critical comments have shattered her self-esteem. There are so many fly-by-night agencies that can be sleazy near pimps and they can get scammed by rapists and even sex traffickers. If you aren’t with one of the big agencies, then it is a risk. There are so many scumbags at this level it would be easier to name who wasn’t a creep.

    I don’t encourage anyone to model unless they have someone who can fund their first year, and they understand the odds are against them. The sexual harassment can be extreme and so can exploitation. With a top legit agency if a model isn’t making a certain amount of money in her first year or even before she is dumped. Bye. If she is not maintaining her weight and getting complaints then Bye.

    A hot model is making six figures in her first year and then rises, but that is an exception. Mostly these models are discovered by someone who has a great eye, and if they pan out and are creating a buzz, they will have more protection, because they are with a top agency. There is still harassment, but it isn’t as desperate on the model’s part because she is booked solid and has some choices and if she continues rising then she has more power. It still doesn’t stop harassment it is just with higher end people with a lot more money involved. This is the group it will be harder to name because they are known, and the clients are well known. There is a lot of money at stake at this level.

    Terry was named because he was so gross and models started refusing to work with him and told their agencies what his game was. He made models so uncomfortable it was just known to stay away but if you did go be prepared to be pushed and cajoled. He got away with so much, but he isn’t the only one.

    • supersoft says:

      Richardson isnt the only one, but def one of the worst. He even shows his disrespect in his work. As if he thinks of himself as untouchable. And to me he isnt even a great talent. But he is loud, he is obnoxious, and that counts more than talent.

      • magnoliarose says:

        He is the worst or at least the most flagrant, and he keeps getting hired, mostly in Europe, Asia and outside of the US, but Valentino hired him for a campaign. It makes me angry because he is still doing it. Some guys use their job as a chance to be modelizers, but then others purely exploit and assault.
        France and Italy, in particular, make me angry because a lot of young girls go there to build their books and they are green. Predators know this and I so many underage girls with 30 and 40-year-old men. As young as 14 supposedly “chaperoned.” Then you don’t hear about them until years later living like Lohan with their noses blown out.
        I hope someone busts them. I think if the climate continues it will happen. One of the tricks these photographers use is to get a girl in their thrall and then pass them around to their friends. Or fake shoots and force themselves on them or even “legit” ones demanding bjs. Open lurid agencies, 45 had one where modeling isn’t the primary business.

        The execs are not innocent either, and some hire a model they lust after, hang around the set to ogle and start affairs or flings or want a weekend. Some don’t even have a campaign but will pay outright for companionship. And some models are tricked and then pressured to sleep with a Harvey.
        It needs to stop.

  21. SM says:

    And we laughed, but he never abused anybody – is laughter an aphorism of something or what? That sentence reads very strange, like when a murderer cutting a victim into pieces and buying them in the ground and when police comes saying: hey, but do not dig up that whole in my back yard.
    And can any of those douchbags answer please one question: if they heard the rumoirs why they consitently side with the aledged criminal rather than victim. Doesn’t the rumour raises any even remote doubt in their minds?

    • supersoft says:

      The wording in general with all three quotes is highly suspicious. They all sound like abusers just defending themselves. “Didnt think of it as abuse so its not abuse, right?”

      • magnoliarose says:

        Exactly. Abuse is not abuse because it was consensual and power dynamics had nothing to do with it. Honest. She wanted to.
        Shady af these guys.

  22. X says:

    I work in fashion advertising and I know for a fact David Lipman is full of shit.

    Please please follow Cameron Russell, she and other models have been sharing stories of sexual harassment in the fashion indursty, with the hashtag #myjobshouldnotincludeabuse

  23. Kazzzzz says:

    Don’t forget the music industry too. Remember poor Ke$ha?