Condé Nast Cuts Ties With Terry Richardson Many, Many Years Too Late


The battle to combat the systemic sexism that continues to subject women to hellish and sometimes dangerous circumstances is not just limited to the Harvey Weinstein-roiled movie business. The fashion world is also ripe for reform. And while male fashion executives clearly have a difficult time recognizing sexual harassment as a problem, there has been some movement to improve safety for women in the industry.

For example, a proposed amendment in New York seeks to bring more accountability by making clients who contract models for shoots liable for harassment. Another example: magazine megapublisher Condé Nast is allegedly no longer working with Terry Richardson, the bright flash photographer whose predatory behavior is so well-known that it was the thinly-veiled subject of a Law and Order: SVU episode.

This morning, The Telegraph reported that an email sent from executive vice president and chief operating officer James Woolhouse to Condé Nast International heads stated the company would not only cease working with Richardson but would not run any current unpublished material shot by him. Via The Telegraph:

Mr Woolhouse wrote: “I am writing to you on an important matter. Condé Nast would like to no longer work with the photographer Terry Richardson.
“Any shoots that have been commission[ed] or any shoots that have been completed but not yet published, should be killed and substituted with other material.
“Please could you confirm that this policy will be actioned in your market effective immediately. Thank you for your support in this matter.”

Terry Richardson has been accused of a range of disgusting and inappropriate behavior on set by several different models for years. Yet despite the sheer volume of these claims—which include screenshots of alleged inappropriate conversations with him—and the fact that he literally said, “It’s not who you know, it’s who you blow. I don’t have a hole in my jeans for nothing,” the man has still been able to keep a job for years.

Back in 2014 brands like Target, H&M, Aldo as well as publications like the New York Times, Vogue, and W Magazine (the latter two are Condé Nast properties), have stated they no longer had plans to work with Richardson, some citing his reputation. But Richardson has continued to land shoots—in 2015 he did the covers for Rolling Stone and Harpers Bazaar, last year he shot Bella Hadid for W Korea and Rihanna for CR Fashion Book.

It’s not clear why Condé Nast waited so long to officially sever ties with Richardson for their international editions, or if this move constitutes the beginning or the extent to which the publisher aims to improve safety for women in the fashion world. It’s certainly a high-profile measure and good overall, but given that the majority of allegations surrounding Richardson peaked in 2014, it does seem an inadequate response to the enormous problem women in fashion face in 2017. We have reached out to Condé Nast and will update if we hear back.

Update, 10:25 AM: We heard back. This is what Harriet Robertson, Deputy Publicity Director at Condé Nast Britain, had to say:

Dear Isha,
I can confirm that the content of the email has been correctly quoted and that Condé Nast International has no further comment to make.
With best wishes,

Note: the headline of this piece originally said that Condé Nast had “reportedly” cut ties with Richardson. It has been updated to reflect Condé Nast’s confirmation.

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