In a blistering interview, model Caron Bernstein — who has accused Terry Richardson of sexual assault — says that Tom Ford‘s defense of Richardson in a recent New York Times profile is “a f–king crap use of his power, and his platform and frankly socially irresponsible.”
And she told Page Six that Ford’s remarks should disqualify him from becoming the next chair of powerful trade group the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
In December 2017, Bernstein accused Richardson of exposing his penis to her during a 2003 photoshoot and forcing himself into her mouth. (Richardson has vehemently denied any wrongdoing). The NYPD later opened an investigation into Bernstein claims, which she tells us is still underway. (The NYPD declined to confirm to Page Six whether they’re still working on the case).
Bernstein is one of many models to have accused Richardson of an array of misconduct from pressuring them into sexual activity for photographs, sexually assaulting them, aggressively kissing them and promising them work in return for sex, among other things. Richardson has denied all wrongdoing.
But in an interview with the Times published on April 20, Tom Ford brushed off all the allegations against Richardson.
“Ugh! I love Terry. And I have to say that I never in my entire life saw any of that with Terry,” said Ford, “One of my assistants went out with Terry for two years and he was the kindest, gentlest person in the relationship.”
Bernstein — who has modeled for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, among others — said that when she read the remarks, “I felt sick to my stomach.”
And Bernstein told us that Ford’s claim that he hadn’t witnessed any of the alleged bad behavior is an absurd defense of Richardson.
“In what universe would Terry Richardson be running around acting like a gorilla — running around raping girls on his probably $200,000 set — in front of Tom Ford? It would never happen,” said Bernstein, “Tom Ford is not an idiot by any stretch, so he obviously knows it would never happen in front of his face. It couldn’t. It would be lawsuits up the Wazoo that Tom Ford would be responsible for. Terry would only behave like a gentleman in front of Tom Ford.”
A spokesperson for Ford told us, “Mr. Ford in no way defended Richardson. That is not what he said. He simply stated that he had never experienced or seen any of the behavior that Mr. Richardson is accused of. Mr. Ford’s intention has always been, and will always be, that everyone within our fashion community feels respected and safe.”
When we asked Bernstein what she would say to Ford about his remarks if she had the opportunity, she said, “that I would like to hope what he said was irreverent, and [that] he should apologize for it — and not necessarily to me, but to the world at large and to all victims because it was a hideous comment without knowing the facts. It was an absolutely hideous comment to make, because he wasn’t in the room [when Bernstein claims Richardson attacked her]. He wasn’t there and he doesn’t know.”
On March 19 — one month before the Times piece was published — the CFDA announced that Ford will succeed Diane von Furstenberg as its chairperson in 2020.
“Had I not read [the Times] article, I would have been absolutely saying ‘that’s fantastic, great’ based on his talent,” Bernstein told us, “I don’t know the man personally but just as far as his talent goes in several different arenas, I would have thought, ‘great.’ But now I’m getting a hint of what type of people he applauds, I think he’s either delusional or just not a nice person, and very disrespectful person, and I don’t understand how somebody could literally be applauding a person who so many people” have accused of sexual misconduct.
When we asked if she thought the remarks should disqualify Ford from becoming the CFDA chair, she said, “I do. Yes.”
Richardson has been sidelined in the industry since the beginning for the #MeToo movement, with publishing powerhouses Conde Nast and Hearst blacklisting him.
“I think it’s potentially dangerous,” Bernstein said of Ford’s chairmanship, “and I think with the kind of power he has now assumed, there’s now a possibility that he can bring back people like Terry Richardson and throw them back into positions of power and I think if you take a predator like that, and take that leash and that muzzle off him, he’ll be right back to where he started.”
Bernstein said, “It makes Tom Ford look sloppy and like he doesn’t give a sh-t and it makes the future look like an evil place where kids can just get raped for even having aspirations in fashion. And it’s a f–king crap use of his power, and his platform and it’s frankly socially irresponsible.”
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