In the heart of London’s prestigious Mayfair neighbourhood sits Hamiltons, a gallery that has been exhibiting work from renowned contemporary photographers since the late 1970s. Names well known within the fashion industry, such as Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, are often on its exhibition roster, while works by the likes of Paolo Roversi and Annie Leibovitz have also been displayed.
But the gallery’s current exhibition centres on a more divisive figure: Mario Testino. The famed photographer was accused of sexual exploitation by multiple male models, in an exposé published almost two years ago by The New York Times. Testino denied the accusations against him. Now, it seems, he is staging a quiet comeback.
Last month, Kim Kardashian West posted a photo of her and daughter North West on Instagram, tagging Testino in the image, but without revealing when the photograph was taken. The post was picked up by Diet Prada, which commented: “her very public and premature endorsement of Testino is problematic in that it both discredits the experiences of survivors and worse, potentially enables further exploitative behaviour.”
Bruce Weber, another photographer named alongside Testino in allegations of years-long sexual misconduct, is also back at work. (Like Testino, Weber denied all the allegations against him.) In February, he released a book about actor Robert Mitchum before debuting a related film, which was screened in a handful of French cinemas. This month, The New York Times reported that the most recent issue of indie magazine Man About Town ran a sexualised spread shot by Weber. (According to editorial and creative director Huw Gwyther, the magazine did not commission the spread, nor was Weber paid for his work.) Similarly, Holiday Magazine ran a shoot by the photographer in its Spring/Summer 2019 issue. The magazine did not respond to BoF’s request for comment.