Back in the 90′s when I was living my dirty New York City life I would occasionally pick up some modeling work here and there, and due to the social circles I was moving around in it was more or less inevitable the I would end up working with Terry Richardson eventually. Before anyone gets distracted by the almost fancy sounding phrase “social circles” let me clarify that it means I was living in a hotel with a bunch of cracked out club kids, working in nightclubs, and subsisting on a diet of opiates and sugar. The term “heroin chic” was on the verge of being coined for a very good reason, an attempt to justify our habits in a more acceptable context and keep working. It still amazes me that people got that to fly for as long as they did, but anyway, back to Terry.
When I met him Terry looked like he stepped straight out of a 70′s porn film, complete with pedobar mustache and cut off denim shorts. Actually he still looks like that, which I think may not be helping him out here because he has recently been accused of exploiting under age, or nearly underage models. He was well established when I worked with him, but certainly not the mega star he is now with a series of books released by Taschen, a host of campaigns for Gucci, Miu Miu, Pirelli, Tom Ford, and a million magazines added to his resume. I can say that when I worked with him he was always respectful and professional, but that was also on the cusp of everything turning really ugly in the scene and I know first hand how a combination of drugs, a position of power, and unlimited indulgence from those in authority can become a recipe for really bad things happening. I stumbled across his book Terryworld a few years later in some shop in London and remember flipping through it and not being able to really think past “um…wow”. I’ll just leave it at that.
For another take on it, one from an actual teenage girl (no direct contact with Mr. Richardson) I’ll refer you over to the very well produced fashion blog Style Rookie. She gets into the nuanced dynamics of power, in the fashion industry, the media, and between older men of influence and young women of little experience. Tavi’s pretty bad ass.
I had a hard time finding some of the images that represent the issue most pointedly because apparently he’s been doing his damndedst to remove them from the internest, though there are few explicit ones in the article I linked up at the top over there (I’m not sure I’ll look at a carnation the same way again), but here are a few that might give you an idea of where we are going with this.