On a scale of one to “Girl…!” (10), just how wonderful is Vanessa Friedman’s takedown of Harper’s Bazaar‘s decision to bring Terry Richardson back into its loving embrace? We’re going to go with “Oh, snap,” which in numerical terms would be an 11.
If you noticed, this month’s Harper’s Bazaar cover image is of a topless Miranda Kerr, taken in Richardson’s unmistakable style, white background and all. Since last year when several models came forward accusing Richardson of sexual abuse, publications that have typically used his services have backed away from the photographer. But BuzzFeed notes that Richardson was still on contract with Bazaar.
Perhaps Bazaar was hoping we forgot that the man is an accused predator. Friedman, however, definitely remembers. In an article pondering the publication’s speedy forgiveness, she cites John Galliano’s breakdown, shunning and ultimate reintegration into the fashion community. Fashion people seem to be in a forgiving mood these days, but she says Richardson’s demons are particularly troubling to overlook not only because he doesn’t seem to have done anything to atone for them, but his alleged actions are decidedly out of line with the heart of what women’s fashion is about.
“Fashion is an industry whose whole identity is based on catering to women and making them feel better about themselves,” she wrote. “Celebrating someone who has been accused of doing the exact opposite risks undermining the very point of the discipline.” Ouch.
“Women buy clothes to solve problems,” she continues, “of how to communicate power, empathy, femininity, ability; of how to define their place in the world. And they buy magazines to help them understand how to do that. The way a photographer interacts with and views the women he shoots goes to the very heart of this message.”
So, does that mean a fashion magazine hiring Richardson is going against what fashion is all about? Uh, we’re inclined to say yes. And that, y’all, is the shade.