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Model harassment claims cloud Paris men’s fashion week

Paris men's fashion week starts late Tuesday with the industry shaken by claims that two star photographers sexually harassed male models.

Peru-born Mario Testino, a favourite of the British royal family, and American Bruce Weber both denied the accusations made against them by a string of models and assistants in the New York Times.

But the publishers of Vogue magazine severed ties with the photographers this weekend.

British brand Burberry and US labels Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and shoemaker Stuart Weitzman, for whom the two men have shot publicity campaigns, also insisted they would not work with people who abused their position.

Another model Christopher Cates, who said Weber asked him to strip within seconds of meeting him, said it was time for male models to speak out.

Inspired by the #MeToo campaign in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Cates has launched the #MenToo hashtag on social media to break the taboo and stand up to abusers.

“We want you to know you’re no longer in control,” he wrote in the industry bible, Women’s Wear Daily.

“We want you to know who we are. We want you to know our stories,” he added.

The welter of accusations comes months after the two French luxury goods giants LVMH and Kering joined forces to create a charter to combat the mistreatment of models.

New York casting agent James Scully had earlier blown the whistle on the way models were treated at a “cattle call” casting for Balenciaga in Paris last March.

Scores of women said they were left to wait in a cramped stairway for hours, with some alleged locked inside in the dark while agents left to eat.

– Beyonce’s gender fluid favourite –

Paris men’s fashion week runs till Sunday night, with 55 shows and the French capital more dominant than ever compared with its rivals in Milan, London and New York.

A new wave of daring young designers will present for the first time alongside the big names, starting with the flamboyant Spanish label, Palomo Spain, on Tuesday evening.

Designer Alejandro Gomez Palomo made headlines in July when the singer Beyonce wore one of his dresses to present her twins to her 110 million Instagram followers.

The 25-year-old made his name with his erotic, theatrical style inspired by the imaginative world of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar.

The Palomo Spain label, seen here in February 2017, is known for erotic, gender fluid creations inspired by the imaginative world of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar

His clothes are for a decidedly gender fluid generation, with dresses that can be worn by men or women, plumed hats and flowery feminine male ensembles.

As the autumn-winter collection shows end on Sunday, an exhibition dedicated to the work of the legendary designer Azzedine Alaia will open in Paris next to his studio, where he died suddenly in November.

The show will feature 35 of his creations chosen by the style historian Olivier Saillard, who curated the retrospective of Alaia’s work at the Palais Galliera fashion museum in Paris in 2013.

Another show celebrating the career of the Tunisian-born designer dubbed the King of Cling, will open at the Design Museum in London in May.

Men’s fashion week will be followed next week by the haute couture shows, the uniquely Parisian institution whose handmade creations are worn by the richest and most famous women in the world.

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