Last week's comments from Danish model Rie Rasmussen have caused a deluge of anti-Terry Richardson stories.
At the end of Paris fashion week, she said, "He takes girls who are young, manipulates them to take their clothes off and takes pictures of them they will be ashamed of."
A few days later, model Jamie Peck wrote, "This man has built his business/pleasure empire on breaking the cardinal rule of asking a young girl you don’t know to come over to your house and hang out naked: don’t be a fucking creep." And yesterday, Jezebel's Jenna Sauers published a handful of stories from models who've had similar experiences with the legendary photographer.
As more models come forward, we've started to wonder if this will actually affect his career. The man shoots for everyone, and we do mean everyone -- from American Vogue to Purple, from H&M to Tom Ford, even Lacoste -- and our instincts say no, he'll continue to be one of the most in demand fashion photographers.
So we went to the source. We asked a few editors, writers, publicists and stylists what they think of what's happened, and what will happen to Richardson within the industry, and promised anonymity. Surprise! Almost everyone thinks the same thing.
One of the first people I emailed, a well respected fashion writer, responded to my question about, "the Terry Richardson stuff," with, "Put it this way, I totally missed the news about this, and when I read this I immediately knew it had to be sex-related. Why? Because it's Terry Richardson!"
As for whether these stories will change anything, "I wish I could say, 'Of course!' but this could also blow over before April...it's interesting that if this same thing happened like ten years ago (which, of course it did!), not nearly as many people would know as many details, and it would just be chocked up to rumor...Who knows if anybody really gives a shit about the models, because really, has anything else with models (weight, age, race) been resolved?...Maybe agencies will at least stop sending younger girls to him."
That seems to be the major issue, agencies saying no to younger girls. One editor agrees, "The bigger issue is underage models, and I think at some point it would just be better to say models need to be 18," while another says, "You’d think this whole situation is such a bad photographer/model cliché that you’d only see it on TV, but when you think about how many young—REALLY young—girls are trying to become the next Karlie or Chanel, it’s not surprising that they would do whatever it takes to get discovered. The most surprising thing to me are the adults on Terry’s team that reportedly stand by and let this happen.
One person adds, "Is Terry a bit of horndog? Yes. Does everyone know that? Yes. Does that give him license to ill and take advantage of underaged girls? Of course not. But the two women who've openly complained about Terry - Rie Rasmussen and Jamie Peck - are women known for being pretty wild and sexualized themselves. Rie was interviewed by my friend [name redacted] and she was outrageous talking of her obsession with vaginas and photographing them. That's all good and what two people over 18 do is their business. Certainly any model under 18 should not be photographed nude or put in uncomfortable situations without a parent and agent there to protect them, but I haven't heard any concrete allegations about Terry doing that. I know plenty of women who would get naked and blow Terry or Olivier Zahm or Vincent Gallo to be photographed by them. If you don't want to give Terry a hand job you need to say 'No'. Jamie says she didn't say no because she didn't want to be the killjoy in the room. So for her to now act like she was forced into something is a bit disingenuous."
Another industry insider, who's spent her fair share of time on set, says, "Shooting in that style and in that laid back environment there's sure to be some indiscretion at some point. Being on set there's always a friends and family feeling to the crew and shooting provocative scenes always increases that mood."
So will it affect his work? The consensus is no.
One person compares it to Kate Moss's drug scandal, which lasted about a month before she booked almost every major campaign under the sun. Another says, "Aside from being a great photographer, Terry's very popular. I think his friends in the business won't throw him overboard because of some Page Six scandal."
And finally, "Maybe a few parents won't let their girls shoot with him, but aside from that, no way."