mert & marcus/dsquared2 via fashion gone rogue
Jordan Coulter is Australia’s latest male modelling star. And here he is in all his glory modelling in the new Fall/Winter 2010/2011 ad campaign for Canadian fashion brand Dsquared2. His on-camera colleagues are Thomas Hoefnagels, Tyler Kenyon, Chanel Iman, Alla Kostromicheva and Iris Strubegger. All over 20. Scouted at the age of 14 by Gold Coast-based Kirk Blake, Coulter has been modelling for the past year. He turns 18 in December and is still at school. No, the photo is not full frontal and there is nothing sexually explicit about the pose. Nor is there is any suggestion whatsoever that anything untoward happened on the shoot. Nevertheless, it's a pervy shot and Coulter is a 17 year-old minor, who can’t vote or legally drink alcohol in either Australia or the US, and who is below the age of sexual consent in California, where the shoot took place.
The images are currently appearing in the pages of fashion magazines across the world and on numerous websites.
Coulter’s other gigs reportedly include Just Jeans, American Eagle, a Calvin Klein lookbook and the Dolce e Gabbana anniversary book (presumably to be unveiled at their show today, which celebrates 20 years of Dolce e Gabbana menswear).
In April, when Coulter was “rushed” to LA for the Dsquared2 shoot, Blake told The Gold Coast Bulletin:
“Mert and Marcus [photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot], are pretty much the Gods of this industry so pretty much as soon as this campaign comes out, he will be known around the world or people will want to know who he is..... We now have to be very careful which jobs he will take, as his value becomes even greater with this new campaign under his belt.''
Frockwriter did make some effort to seek comment from both Kirk Blake and Scene Models.
Scene washed its hands of the matter in an email stating that it only manages Coulter's work in Australia and had nothing to do with the international booking. Blake declined to comment.
Model industry sources tell frockwriter that permission would have been sought from Coulter’s agent and, most likely, also his parents, to photograph him naked and that in fact he would have been paid a premium for doing so.
“It could be his big break” said one industry source.
“We just wouldn’t take the risk” said another; “if he’s that good, why not wait until he turned 18?”
mert & marcus/dsquared via fashion gone rogue
There are many reasons why fashion companies might want to exercise due diligence when it comes to photographing underage models.
In 2008, after questions were asked about a wet swimsuit image of then 13 year old Polish model Monika Jagaciak, IMG Fashion Asia Pacific banned under-16 models from Rosemount Australian Fashion Week. Ironically of course, Jagaciak is repped by IMG Models outside of Poland. Presumably, noone at IMG had a problem with her posing for that shot – or other provocative images while she was still under 16.
Also in 2008, following claims the company had published sexualized images of children in its marketing material, Australian department store David Jones went to the draconian length of banning all under-18 models from even its runway shows - and they don't include nudity.
Insisting on an 18+ workforce won't however guarantee immunity from scandal.
Yesterday, the David Jones board distanced itself from its own former ceo Mark McInnes, after one sexual advance too many prompted legal action from a 25 year-old David Jones employee and McInnes resigned in disgrace.
In March, several models over the age of 18 came forward to call out photographer Terry Richardson for inappropriate behaviour. Will Richardson perhaps one day find himself the target of a class action lawsuit?
What of male models?
In March 2003, Abercrombie & Fitch art director Sam Shahid was found guilty of sexual harassment and ordered to pay US$70,000 to 23 year-old former Abercrombie & Fitch employee Mladen Djankovich. Djankovich accused Shahid of touching him inappropriately and withholding advancement opportunities after he protested.
In December that year, Abercrombie & Fitch made the decision to discontinue its controversial quarterly publication, whose intensely homoerotic imagery – engineered by Shahid and photographed by Bruce Weber – had attracted considerable criticism. At the time one former model told WWD that Weber and Shahid sacked models who weren’t willing to pose nude and that Shahid was constantly pressuring models to “act sexier” on the set.
Just to clarify, to frockwriter's knowledge, none of the allegations revolve around anyone connected to the recent Dsquared2 shoot on which Jordan Coulter worked, but it's worth noting that there are plenty of new rumours flying about alleged sexual activity on fashion shoots involving male models.
In communications sighted by frockwriter, these include claims that young men have been pressured to masturbate themselves in front of parties present on photographic shoots, in order to get themselves 'in the mood' for jobs.
There has also been reference to something colloquially referred to as a "rape shed”, to which male models are said to have been lured.
At least one male model is said to have been emotionally disturbed by similar events.
Meanwhile, overnight came the sad news of yet another model death.
Top French male model Tom Nicon fell to his death from his Milanese apartment building, on the eve of the mens Spring/Summer 2010 show season, which starts today.
There are as yet no other details. Given the score of model deaths over the past two years - including multiple suicides – speculation has inevitably focussed on suicide.
Who knows what may have been troubling Nicon. One thing is for sure, however, the pressures in the modelling industry have never been greater.
All those involved in the supply line would be well advised to take stock of the situation. As noted by models.com’s Wayne Sterling last November, “We're dealing with human beings here, not inanimate mannequins”.
Or pieces of meat.