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Terry Richardson Manhandles Objects of Desire for Valentino

Terry Richardson Manhandles ‘Objects of Desire’ for Valentino

Image via WWD

Terry Richardson's first-ever campaign for Valentino launched today. Take a look, and you tell me if the notorious photographer's tattooed arms and veiny hands groping at shiny red stuff makes you feel like dropping over a grand per item on marked-up luxury accessories. I feel like, no. 

As the brand's designers, Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri, told WWD, the campaign was created to communicate “the sensual yet elegant nature of our accessories, described as objects of desire.”

And of course no one's better qualified to get grabby with objects of desire than the fashion photographer whose early work (that link is so extremely NSFW) anticipated the most hardcore, vile Internet pornography that's around today — where women are displayed less as objects of desire than as objects of ridicule. In some of those earlier, grimly sexual photos, Richardson sometimes shoots models with their faces buried in trashcans and their bodies nude. Richardson's professional work operates within the limits drawn out by his corporate clients and according to mass media content restrictions, but the vulgar, cruel impulses which are so shamelessly on display in his personal work are at the core of his commercial work, too. 

And then there are the accusations that he has an exploitative, borderline-sexual harassment-y method to working with models. Another story, one I've discussed at length in previous posts — links to some of those are below. 

I find it strange that these issues aren't at play when brands decide to sign on Richardson for a campaign. I realize that he creates fairly compelling, provocative fashion images, but the world doesn't need any of it — he's not making timeless art, he's just creating moderately amusing advertising. Can't someone less horrible do that?