Over 100 Top Models + Time's Up Join Model Alliance In Open Letter to Victoria's Secret

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On Tuesday morning, over 100 models, including Christy Turlington Burns, Edie Campbell, Karen Elson, Milla Jovovich, Doutzen Kroes, and Gemma Ward, signed an open letter addressed directly to Victoria’s Secret. The letter petitioned the lingerie brand to take concrete actions in protecting models against sexual misconduct.

The letter was properly addressed to Victoria’s Secret’s CEO John Mehas and it pulled no punches:

We are writing today to express our concern for the safety and wellbeing of the models and young women who aspire to model for Victoria’s Secret. In the past few weeks, we have heard numerous allegations of sexual assault, alleged rape, and sex trafficking of models and aspiring models. While these allegations may not have been aimed at Victoria's Secret directly, it is clear that your company has a crucial role to play in remedying the situation. From the headlines about L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner’s close friend and associate, Jeffrey Epstein, to the allegations of sexual misconduct by photographers Timur Emek, David Bellemere, and Greg Kadel, it is deeply disturbing that these men appear to have leveraged their working relationships with Victoria’s Secret to lure and abuse vulnerable girls.

L Brands CEO Les Wexner (l) and former CMO Ed Razek (r) in happier times.

L Brands CEO Les Wexner (l) and former CMO Ed Razek (r) in happier times.

The letter then proceeds to invite Victoria’s Secret to join the RESPECT Program —a program of the Model Alliance—is the only existing anti-sexual harassment program designed by and for models.

Signatory companies make a binding commitment to require their employees, agents, vendors, photographers and other contractors to follow a code of conduct that protects everyone’s safety on the job, and reduces models’ vulnerability to mistreatment. Models have access to an independent, confidential complaint mechanism, with swift and fair resolution of complaints and appropriate consequences for abusers. Further, RESPECT includes a robust training program aimed toward prevention, to ensure that everyone understands their rights and responsibilities.

“Corporations tend to treat the discovery of abuses as public-relations crises to be managed rather than human-rights violations to be remedied,” says Sara Ziff, the founder and executive director of the Model Alliance. “The RESPECT Program provides Victoria’s Secret an opportunity not only to right the wrongs of the past but also to work towards prevention.”

Ziff recently penned an essay for the Cut detailing her own encounter with Epstein as a young model. She highlighted just how long an imbalance of power and lack of protections have “plagued” the industry. She wrote: “Now, we need the support of agencies, publishing companies, and fashion brands who want to do better by the talent who they purport to protect.”

In November, the Model Alliance issued a statement following disgraced L Brands Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek’s infamous Vogue interview in advance of Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Razek retired from Victoria’s Secret on Monday.

Ruth Bell Is Lensed By Marilyn Minter In 'Hear the Bell' For Out Magazine May 2019

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Ruth Bell Is Lensed By Marilyn Minter In 'Hear the Bell' For Out Magazine May 2019

Model Ruth Bell is styeld by Yashua Simmons in ‘Hear the Bell’, lensed by Marilyn Minter for Out Magazine May 2019./ Hair by Braydon Nelson; makeup by James Kaliardos

Phillip Picardi interviews Ruth Bell, writing the Trumpian headline ‘How Self-Proclaimed Butch Lesbian Became A Fashion Supermodel. It may be time to introduce the Washington Post fact-checker for fashion exaggeration.

Make no mistake, we love Ruth Bell and wouldn’t be featuring these cool Marilyn Minter images if we didn’t. But seriously! Have you noticed that no one is a fashion model anymore? We have only one status, and everyone is a supermodel. It’s the most abused word among fashion writers.

Boston Globe Denies Ever Accusing Karl Templer Of Sexual Coercion Of Models

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Boston Globe Denies Ever Accusing Karl Templer Of Sexual Coercion Of Models

In February 2018, the Boston Globe published a 5,100-word investigation into alleged mistreatment of, and sexual misconduct against fashion models. Stylist Karl Templer was mentioned in the Globe investigation when three models explained that as a stylist, Templer yanked at the underwear and shorts of one, touched another’s crotch and a third model’s breast.

The paper reported that models felt this behavior “crossed the line of professionalism”, seeming to question if this behavior was truly necessary to get the job done on an assignment. One of the models interviewed recalled the instance of her underwear and shorts being pulled off as “trying to get me naked,” although she’d told her agent she did not want to be nude below the waist.

“A stylist’s movement of clothes multiple times — over three decades and possibly tens of thousands of interactions — is not the same as sexual predation or sexual harassment or touching with the intent of self-gratification,” Templer said in an open letter to WWD published the next day.

He added that it was “impossible” for him to defend himself, as the prominent stylist been given no specific information to which he could respond.

On Oct. 2, the Boston Globe responded to Templer’s lawyer, asserting that it never reported that the stylist was accused by any model of “coercing or trying to coerce models to engage in sex or sexual activities” with him.

Eye: Karl Lagerfeld Is "Fed Up" With #MeToo | Interview Magazine Scrambles | Georgina Chapman Is Ready For Marchessa Comeback

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Eye: Karl Lagerfeld Is "Fed Up" With #MeToo | Interview Magazine Scrambles | Georgina Chapman Is Ready For Marchessa Comeback

Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld has an opinion on absolutely every topic, and now he's told Numero magazine that he is "fed up" with the #MeToo movement. Lagerfeld takes issue with moves in the fashion industry to embrace new regulations in the interest of protecting young models. 

Lagerfeld was interviewed by Numero on International Women's Day -- perhaps not the best idea. 

[Numero] Anyway, moving on, today is International Women’s Day…

{KL] For me Women’s Day is every day of the year. Men’s fashion does little for me. I buy it of course, and I’m delighted that Hedi [Slimane] is going to Céline but drawing a men’s collection and having to put up with all those stupid models, no thanks. Not to mention the fact with all their accusations of harassment they have become quite toxic. No, no, no, don’t leave me alone with one of those sordid creatures.

Karen Elson Joins Model Alliance Board As It Embraces Fashion Industry's Trickle Down Effect On Women

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Karen Elson Joins Model Alliance Board As It Embraces Fashion Industry's Trickle Down Effect On Women

One of the industry's most prominent models Karen Elson recently joined the Model Alliance's board of directors. Sara Ziff and the Model Alliance came into existence in 2012 with the mission of promoting the fair treatment, safety, overall working conditions and mental health of models. More prominent now than ever, we note a new evolution in the group's mission that includes a need to embrace fashion's trickle-down effect and its impact in the larger population. 

This week Elson joined the Model Alliance's board of directors and its founding director Ziff in a chat in Rachel Comey's Crosby Street store. On hand were editors, agents and designers, along with a lot of young models, writes Vogue. 

Ziff and Elson reviewed the basic accountability steps that the industry is taking to address the 'job' of being a model. Fresh -- if not new -- commentary in the presentation focused on the trickle-down effect that the fashion industry has on women's self-images and the larger culture. Elson shared her thoughts: