British catwalk star Olympia Campbell: Photographers blacklist models who refuse to date them

Patrick Sawer
Edie Campbell (L) and Olympia Campbell at the Harper's Bazaar Women Of The Year awards 2014 at Claridge's Hotel in London - Getty Images Contributor

One of the brightest talents on the British catwalk has accused a number of fashion photographers of threatening to blacklist models who refuse to date them.

Olympia Campbell says she has been warned by her own model agency, Viva London, about a number of photographers in the industry who are “renowned for trying to make a move on some of the girls”.

And she said this kind of sexual harassment was putting some models’ careers at risk.

Miss Campbell, whose sister Edie - also a model - wrote an open letter last year urging the industry to tackle the problem of sexual abuse, suggested some photographers were abusing their influence.

In an interview in today’s Telegraph magazine the 22-year-old said: “There are definitely photographers - and I’ve been warned by my agency - that are renowned for trying to make a move on some of the girls.”

Olympia Campbell attends a VIP preview of the Dover Street Market in March 2016 in London Credit: David M Benett/Getty Images Europe

She said that while she had not been warned that a specific photographer was “dangerous”, but said she worried about the impact their approaches might have on young models.

“I don’t know who they’ve made a move on, so I don’t know if those were appropriate moves to make,” she said. “It might be that this person’s very flirty, he’ll meet you for a casting and book you for a job and maybe ask you out for a drink.”

But Miss Campbell, who has modelled for Balmain, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, went on to say: “If you don’t go you’re probably not going to get booked on the job again. That doesn’t matter so much for me because I’m doing other things, but I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who do really want the next job.”

She voiced her fears at a time when the fashion industry is still reeling over revelations about the predatory and abusive behaviour of veteran photographer Terry Richardson, who was banned by Vogue magazine last October after disturbing allegations resurfaced that he had engaged in sexually inappropriate behaviour with young models during photo shoots.

Mr Richardson later admitted to The Telegraph that his controversial working practices involve “interacting” with models in a sexually explicit way.

That was followed by claims last month that fellow photographer Mario Testino, famous around the world for his pictures of Diana, Princess of Wales, sexually exploited at least 13 male models since the 1990s. Bruce Weber, another fashion photographer, was accused of similar claims stretching back to 1982.

The claims, denied by Testino and Weber, led to both photographers being dropped by Condé Naste, the publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ.

Following the outcry over Richardson’s working methods Edie Campbell, 27, who has appeared in campaigns for brands including Burberry, Dior, Marc Jacobs, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton, and was named Model of the Year at the British Fashion Awards in December 2013, wrote a heartfelt letter to the industry over the issue.

She stated: “We have a problem: We operate within a culture that is too accepting of abuse, in all of its manifestations. This can be the ritual humiliation of models, belittling of assistants, power plays and screaming fits. We have come to see this as simply a part of the job.”

Edie, the goddaughter of Conde Nast chairman Nicholas Coleridge, was discovered by Testino when she was aged 15.

Viva London, which represents both the Campbell sisters, did not return a request for a comment on Olympia Campbell’’s claims.

The agency, based in Shoreditch, east London, also failed to respond to questions about whether it still sends models to work with the same photographers it had warned them about, or whether it refuses to work with them.


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