I am so disgusted with photographer David Bellemere tonight, that I regret having written such positive words about his sensual images over the years. AOC is probably one of the most beautiful repositories of his work on the Internet.
Even though I come out of the Victoria's Secret organization, this ardent feminist was circumspect in writing about the recent Lui magazine controversy between VS Angel Sara Sampaio and Bellemere. Sampaio might even accuse me of siding with Bellemere, in spite of my expressed neutrality, and I would understand her accusation.
The #MeToo movement had broken in America by the end of October when Sara Sampaio took issue with her photographic experience with David Bellemere, and I listed a few #MeToos of my own that are quite serious as sexual assault experiences go. The memories have never doused my appreciation for men, although I no longer tolerate nonsense -- only because life is too short, and I am a lovely woman in every aspect.
At this moment I am so angry with David Bellemere, I will have to sleep on my response to his comments to WWD about the explosive Boston Globe story on sexual harassment and aggression among fashion photographers. Bellemere is named in a detailed, front page story that has already impacted his career. I note, though, that VS ended their relationship with Bellemere over complaints about his behavior from the models and Angels, many of whom also consider themselves to be feminists. It's not a word we throw around, but we will all use it especially in this #MeToo moment.
I am using the word 'feminist' because Bellemere has used it. He has dropped the gauntlet, and so will I. There will be no neutrality now on my attitude about David Bellemere. His comments brought back a night in my life and an essay I wrote several years ago about my limited experiences with French men -- which have never been favorable in a romantic sense.
These are Bellemere's comments, published in WWD, that have really pissed me off. I will continue this dialogue after some reflections.
“There is due process. We have something called justice here. We have been walking on it since the [beginning] of the story of humanity. We are not savages in the Middle Ages. If you have any proof, you bring the proof,” Bellemere said. “Today if a feminist says, ‘He’s guilty,’ everybody is going to believe he’s guilty.”
At 45, the twice-divorced photographer pointed to his middle-age status and said he doesn’t own anything. “They are destroying people. They are destroying lives. My [15-year-old] daughter is crying. It’s too much. I’m going to lose everything. I’m not like Patrick Demarchelier or all of those (older) guys who have a career that is finished."
Bellemere makes the suggestion that the photographer not be alone with the model -- which I think is a good idea. At the end of the shoot, he proposes that everyone sign a report that everyone was well-behaved. The objective would be to “prove that all as been done under respect or without misbehavior,” Bellemere said (to WWD). “This is to avoid lies and problems. We have to sit around the table and write it down together. I want this war to end between feminists and the industry. We are wasting too much talent.”
In all my time in the fashion industry, in all the sad experiences I've had with men -- ones Bellemere probably agrees with, like the experience I narrate below -- I have never been so goddess-damned resentful of a statement. I have championed male photographers for a decade, including David Bellemere, although working with female photographers is so much easier. But for him to condemn feminism and the #MeToo movement -- which suggests he has no problem with the Harvey Weinsteins of the world -- that is a reflection of the masculine arrogance and self-importance that has launched what is a seismic #MeToo movement.
In reality, these utterly stupid and self-destructive comments by Bellemere about feminism and our failure to understand and nourish creative talent suggests that he has a Pablo Picasso complex. Well, I'm not having it one minute longer from David Bellemere and I regret the mountains of praise that I've heaped on him for a decade. ~ Anne
Previously: 'An American Woman Charmed But Not Seduced By French Men
I’m not one of those American women who throws herself on the sidewalks of Paris, saying “please, please like me, mighty Parisians.” But it is true that France has always inspired me in what I wish America could be more of — a country with a passion for living well in mind, body and with beauty. As a key executive with Victoria’s Secret for 10 years, lastly as the head of product development and then fashion director, I’ve long embraced France’s approach to living in touch with one’s senses.