How Harvey Weinstein used his fashion business as a pipeline to models – Los Angeles Times

Harvey Weinstein attends a "Mission Runway" fashion present in New York in 2012. (D Dipasupil / FilmMagic / Getty Pictures)

It was the type of night Zoë Brock was accustomed to, an intimate feast at an Artwork Deco resort on a waterfront avenue in Cannes. The Australian mannequin was ushered to an empty seat at a lengthy desk on a lush patio overlooking a swimming pool.

She didn’t acknowledge the person seated subsequent to her, however would rapidly discover out he was Harvey Weinstein, a brusque American producer on the town for the movie competition.

That first encounter of champagne and small speak would finish in a a lot much less elegant fashion hours later in a resort room, the place Weinstein stood earlier than Brock bare and solicited a therapeutic massage. She mentioned she locked herself in a rest room to escape him.

Nonetheless shaken by that night time in 1998, Brock believes the occasions have been set in movement by males linked to Weinstein.

"Somebody put me there subsequent to him — that was on objective. I'm fairly positive that there are a lot of those who would really like to sit subsequent to Harvey Weinstein,” mentioned Brock, 43, who was represented by a Milanese modeling company on the time. “So why was it me?"

Weinstein, 65, is greatest recognized for his pioneering profession within the unbiased movie business, however during the last 20 years he has additionally carved out a vital business in fashion — govt producing the tv present "Mission Runway," investing within the clothes model Halston, and backing the excessive-finish womenswear firm Marchesa, which was co-based by his spouse, former mannequin Georgina Chapman. The foray generated a worthwhile TV franchise, profitable partnerships and cachet among the many international jet set.

However that success was solely one of many advantages for Weinstein. In interviews with the Los Angeles Times, practically a dozen individuals with ties to the business — together with models, casting administrators, publicists and executives linked to "Mission Runway" — mentioned that he used fashion as a pipeline to ladies. They mentioned that models, oftentimes younger and dealing abroad removed from dwelling, have been significantly weak.

As well as to Brock, greater than 10 different former or present fashion models — together with Cara Delevingne and Angie Everhart — have accused Weinstein of a wide selection of sexual misconduct.

Somebody put me there subsequent to him — that was on objective. I'm fairly positive that there are a lot of those who would really like to sit subsequent to Harvey Weinstein.

Zoë Brock, mannequin

In a beforehand unreported incident, former Brazilian mannequin Juliana De Paula informed The Times that Weinstein groped her and compelled her to kiss different models that he had taken to his loft in New York a decade in the past. When she tried to go away, she mentioned, he chased her via the condo, bare. She fended him off with a damaged glass.

“He checked out me and he began to chuckle,” she recalled. “I used to be shocked. I used to be fully in disbelief.”

One other mannequin, Samantha Panagrosso, mentioned Weinstein made undesirable sexual advances towards her through the Cannes Movie Pageant in 2003. When Weinstein started touching her legs beneath the water at a resort pool and he or she rebuffed him, he pointed at one other mannequin, she recalled in an interview with The Times. “Have a look at her, I’m going to have her come to my room for a display screen take a look at,” she mentioned Weinstein informed her.

When Panagrosso informed pals about his persevering with advances, she mentioned, they laughed it off: “Sam, don’t be so naïve, you realize Harvey could make you a star.”

For the reason that New York Times and the New Yorker first wrote about Weinstein’s alleged assaults earlier this month, greater than 50 ladies have come ahead to describe their experiences, and he has been fired by Weinstein Co., the indie studio he co-based in 2005 that has launched movies together with “The King’s Speech.”

Six ladies have accused Weinstein of rape or forcible intercourse acts, and he's beneath investigation for sexual assault in Los Angeles, New York and London.

Weinstein has entered counseling and apologized for a few of his habits. However, via his spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister, Weinstein has “unequivocally denied” any allegations of nonconsensual intercourse. As for the accounts of Brock and Panagrosso, Hofmeister mentioned, “Their recollection of occasions differs from that of Mr. Weinstein."

From left, Harvey Weinstein, his wife Georgina Chapman, Elena Perminova and Donna Air attend a Burberry fashion show during London Fashion Week in 2014.
From left, Harvey Weinstein, his spouse Georgina Chapman, Elena Perminova and Donna Air attend a Burberry fashion present throughout London Fashion Week in 2014. Gareth Cattermole / Getty Pictures for Burberry

Turning into a fashion fixture

Weinstein's transformation into a fashion participant was an unlikely flip for a film producer on the zenith of his profession.

By 2000, movies launched by Weinstein’s firm, Miramax, had collected dozens of Oscars, together with greatest image awards for “The English Affected person” and “Shakespeare in Love.” Weinstein had garnered a repute for his bullying ways and aggressive Academy Awards campaigns in pursuit of the gold statuette that burnished his repute as a kingpin of status movies.

He was additionally amongst a rising wave of main film producers to develop into tv. His “Mission Greenlight” documented the travails of would-be filmmakers and made a splash when it launched on HBO in 2001.

Additionally round this time, the fashion world was being buffeted by change. Shiny magazines, such as Vogue and Elle, have been placing A-listing Hollywood actresses on their covers as a result of they helped promote extra copies than lesser-recognized fashion models. For prime-finish journal publishers — and for models aspiring to break into Hollywood — Weinstein had the precise connections.

And he thrived on being on the nexus of tradition.

“For these highly effective individuals, essentially the most seductive foreign money is the one they don't personal,” mentioned a present business affiliate of Weinstein. “He used his Hollywood connections, which mirrored properly in fashion and in tv — and even politics.”

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than the previous fashion novice was simply as a lot a fixture at New York Fashion Week as he was on the pink carpet of Hollywood film premieres.

Interviews with six individuals linked with Weinstein’s cable tv present “Mission Runway” assist make clear his fascination with fashion. These people declined to be recognized, partly due to ongoing business ties to the Weinstein Co.

They mentioned the success of “Mission Greenlight” had elevated Weinstein’s urge for food for tv — and what he needed greater than something was a program that featured fashion models.

Weinstein’s spokeswoman mentioned that “Mission Runway” was developed as a alternative for “Mission Greenlight,” which was ending its run — and never as a car to meet ladies. He merely thought it was a good concept for a tv present, Hofmeister mentioned.

Within the foreword of the 2012 ebook “Mission Runway,” Weinstein wrote that he has “all the time been intrigued and impressed by the artistic course of.”

“I've discovered alongside the way in which that expertise can come from wherever,” he wrote.

Within the early 2000s, Weinstein launched his Miramax executives to a German fashion mannequin, Daniela Unruh, who was in her early 20s on the time, saying she had an concept for a actuality present. Unruh pitched a program known as “Mannequin Condo,” which might comply with a group of models residing collectively.

Executives have been skeptical that such a present can be compelling, however optioned Unruh’s concept for a token quantity — about $eight,000, in accordance to one former Miramax worker. Unruh receives modest royalties from “Mission Runway.”

Her idea was retooled to concentrate on fashion designers competing for his or her large break. Improvement of the present gained traction when supermodel Heidi Klum signed on, however the course of was sluggish — and Weinstein was rising impatient.

“He stored asking: ‘The place’s my mannequin present?’” recalled a former worker. “He wouldn’t drop it.”

Terrified of Weinstein’s response — as a result of the present featured designers with stitching machines and never models — the producers figured they wanted to amp up the participation of gorgeous ladies. The producers concocted a clumsy competitors inside the present that allowed designers to choose the mannequin they discovered most interesting, which resulted in aspiring models, sometimes in tears, being dismissed.

“That was designed as a vestigial aspect for Harvey,” the tv govt mentioned.

Harvey Weinstein and Heidi Klum kiss on the runway at a 2008
Harvey Weinstein and Heidi Klum kiss on the runway at a 2008 "Mission Runway" fashion present in New York. Scott Gries / Getty Pictures for IMG

“Mission Runway” launched in 2004, and over the course of its 16-season run, greater than 200 models have appeared, in accordance to the Web Film Database.

The hit program grew into certainly one of Weinstein’s most profitable franchises. He leveraged its recognition to land a enormous $150-million, 5-yr deal in 2008 with Lifetime, the place he moved the present from Bravo.

And he finally obtained his mannequin-themed actuality present on Lifetime: “Models of the Runway,” which lasted simply two seasons.

However after dozens of ladies got here ahead this month to focus on Weinstein’s alleged misconduct, his title was rapidly stripped from the credit of “Mission Runway.”

Georgina Chapman and her husband, Harvey Weinstein, arrive for a screening of the film
Georgina Chapman and her husband, Harvey Weinstein, arrive for a screening of the movie "Palms of Stone" on the Cannes Movie Pageant. Loic Venance / AFP/Getty Pictures

Deepening fashion ties

The identical yr that “Mission Runway” debuted, Weinstein met his future spouse.

Weinstein encountered Chapman, a British mannequin and costume designer, at a occasion in New York in 2004, not lengthy after he break up from his first spouse, Eve Chilton Weinstein, in accordance to numerous printed stories. Weinstein was in his early 50s and Chapman in her late 20s after they started to date.

That yr she additionally co-based the Marchesa fashion model with Keren Craig, her longtime pal and classmate at Chelsea Faculty of Artwork and Design. Weinstein labored behind the scenes to assist them launch their label — once more increasing his attain deeper into the fashion world.

Vogue was quickly that includes the New York-primarily based firm’s garments in its pages. Weinstein additionally requested actresses to put on Marchesa robes to large award reveals and occasions.

Inside months, Renee Zellweger, contemporary off successful a supporting-actress Oscar for “Chilly Mountain,” strolled the pink carpet in a strapless Marchesa gown on the London premiere of the Miramax-distributed "Bridget Jones: The Fringe of Purpose." A procession of Weinstein-connected stars quickly adopted, amongst them Cate Blanchett, Scarlett Johansson and Felicity Huffman.

Harvey Weinstein and actress Felicity Huffman at Weinstein Co.'s Golden Globe Awards after-occasion in 2006 in Beverly Hills.
Actor Russell Crowe, Harvey Weinstein and actress Renee Zellweger attend an after-occasion on the Venice Movie Pageant in 2005.

Marchesa’s meteoric rise raised eyebrows — and questions on what accounted for it.

“Marchesa's breathtaking success has the fashion world speaking — and rolling its eyes too. Simply how a lot of that success, observers marvel, is due to the Harvey Issue?” a Los Angeles Times article requested in 2006, a yr earlier than Weinstein and Chapman wed.

Opponents complained that stars wore Marchesa on the pink carpet as a result of they — and their brokers, managers and legal professionals — wanted to please the highly effective Weinstein.

“Now we've Harvey Weinstein married to the designer, who is ready to put her clothes on … anyone in Hollywood,” mentioned Julia Samersova, a former modeling agent who works as a casting director in New York. “Sure, it's actually that easy. Who's going to say no to the spouse of Harvey Weinstein?”

This week, amid the quickly unfolding intercourse scandal, the actress Huffman confirmed, through her publicist, that Weinstein did demand that she put on Marchesa robes at public appearances. However the publicist denied stories that he had threatened to withhold funding from her 2005 film “Transamerica.”

Chapman, in an interview for the 2006 Times story, laughed off any suggestion that Weinstein was Marchesa’s guiding pressure. "If anyone seems at how Harvey clothes, they understand he does not have terribly a lot to do with designing,” she mentioned.

Neither Chapman nor Craig responded to requests for remark.

Who's going to say no to the spouse of Harvey Weinstein?

Julia Samersova, former modeling agent

In 2007, Weinstein expanded his fashion holdings: Weinstein Co. and Hilco Shopper Capital purchased Halston, the as soon as-venerable American fashion home that had fallen on exhausting occasions. Weinstein grew to become a member of the corporate’s board, and Jimmy Choo co-founder Tamara Mellon and actress Sarah Jessica Parker additionally obtained concerned within the revival effort. However Halston quickly foundered, and Weinstein departed the enterprise in 2011.

Some within the business, like Fern Mallis, the previous govt director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, have now sought to downplay Weinstein’s function within the business — whereas additionally expressing help for Marchesa’s founders.

"I’m appalled like everybody else about his habits and help all of the courageous ladies talking out," Mallis mentioned. "He was not an ‘affect’ within the fashion business, and I really feel very unhealthy for Georgina and Keren, who're very proficient designers and constructed a terrific business with Marchesa.”

Different business energy gamers with ties to Weinstein have additionally denounced him, together with Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and designer Tom Ford, whose 2009 movie “A Single Man” was distributed by Weinstein Co.

Chapman, 41, introduced final week that she was leaving Weinstein and would concentrate on caring for his or her two kids.

Fashion industry consultant Fern Mallis, Harvey Weinstein and stylist Rachel Zoe attend a 2008
Fashion business marketing consultant Fern Mallis, Harvey Weinstein and stylist Rachel Zoe attend a 2008 "Mission Runway" present. Stephen Lovekin / Getty Pictures for IMG

A pipeline to models

Whereas the fashion business proved profitable for Weinstein and burnished his repute as a tastemaker, it additionally crammed his world with much more younger, stunning ladies.

A number of ladies who've publicly accused Weinstein of misconduct described incidents through which he used his fashion business ties and possession of “Mission Runway” as enticements or pretexts for conferences.

Former aspiring actress Lucia Evans informed the New Yorker that Weinstein mentioned throughout a assembly that she’d “be nice in ‘Mission Runway’” earlier than allegedly forcing her to carry out oral intercourse. Mannequin Ambra Battilana Gutierrez’s 2015 assembly with Weinstein started with discussions of her working as a lingerie mannequin earlier than he allegedly grabbed her breasts and put his hand up her skirt, in accordance to the New York Times.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, a tv actress claimed that when she rebuffed Weinstein’s advances about a decade in the past — saying that she had nothing appropriate to put on to occasions he needed to take her to, together with the Cannes Movie Pageant — he would inform her that he might ship 10 Marchesa clothes.

Individually, a former British mannequin mentioned that when Weinstein was pursuing her about a decade in the past in London, he persuaded her to change modeling companies to a greater-profile one the place he had connections. She additionally mentioned he advised he might assist her launch an performing profession. “The entire thing was a management factor,” mentioned the lady, who spoke on the situation of anonymity over considerations about repercussions from discussing the matter.

This form of habits isn't new to the fashion and leisure industries, that are suffering from a tradition of exploitation, mentioned Victoria Keon-Cohen, a mannequin who spearheaded a unionizing effort a decade in the past in London and is now a filmmaker.

“There’s a very dominant feeling of favors for work,” she mentioned, including that that is particularly the case in fashion, the place “very weak younger ladies and boys are attempting to advance their careers.”

The Majestic Hotel in Cannes.
The Majestic Lodge in Cannes. Frank Micelotta Archive / Getty Pictures

An encounter in Cannes

Brock, the fashion mannequin from Australia, traveled to Cannes in 1998 on the invitation of her Italian agent. Contemporary off of working Paris Fashion Week, Brock, then 24, was keen to community.

Over dinner on the Majestic Lodge, Brock mentioned, she and Weinstein had “a actually good dialog,” chatting about a mutual pal — a feminine director whose movie Miramax had lately distributed. “It felt like Harvey was household,” she mentioned.

Ultimately, some within the dinner group made their manner to the Lodge du Cap Eden-Roc, a luxurious property 30 minutes away the place Weinstein had a suite. Brock mentioned she quickly discovered herself alone within the room with Weinstein.

Earlier than lengthy, Weinstein was bare and pleaded along with her for a therapeutic massage, Brock mentioned. When she declined, Brock mentioned, he requested to give her one. “I relented and let him contact my again and shoulders,” she mentioned. “However I couldn’t deal with his fingers on me, so I bolted out of there, and bolted into the toilet and locked the door.”

She nonetheless had to trip again to Cannes with Weinstein. On the way in which, an apologetic Weinstein supplied to make Brock “a star” and be her “Rock of Gibraltar,” she mentioned.

That night time, she known as her mom and actor Rufus Sewell, who stars on Amazon Studios’ “The Man within the Excessive Fort,” to inform them what had occurred. Each confirmed talking that night time to Brock and listening to her account.

When she lastly made her manner again to the yacht the place she was staying round 5:30 a.m., she mentioned, she felt — and seemed — like “a whore.”

“I used to be sporting yesterday’s gown, with yesterday’s make-up, and messed hair,” she mentioned. “Having to crawl again into the boat trying like that made me seem like the form of one who would have slept with Harvey Weinstein to additional my profession. And I'm not that particular person.”

Cipriani Wall Street in New York.
Cipriani Wall Road in New York. Slaven Vlasic / Getty Pictures

‘This isn't going to be enjoyable in any respect’

Practically a decade later and midway world wide, one other former mannequin skilled an upsetting encounter with Weinstein.

One night time in 2007, De Paula and a few mannequin pals have been launched to Weinstein throughout a karaoke occasion on the lounge above Cipriani Downtown, a buzzy Italian restaurant in Manhattan.

Quickly, a plan was hatched to go to Weinstein’s loft in Soho, mentioned De Paula, who beforehand modeled in Brazil and has since had different jobs in fashion, together with as a supervisor of a images studio in New York.

As soon as Weinstein, De Paula and three models have been contained in the elevator, he started fondling the ladies’s breasts and making them kiss one another, De Paula mentioned. “Forcing. Like placing each heads collectively,” she mentioned.

She mentioned the ladies tried to resist, however have been “embarrassed” and not sure of how to fend him off. The elevator opened inside Weinstein’s residence, and he started disrobing. “My [alarm] bells rang,” she mentioned. “It was, oh my gosh, this isn't going to be enjoyable in any respect.”

De Paula mentioned that Weinstein ushered the three models into his bed room, however she bumped into the adjoining rest room. She heard not less than one lady yell “cease” a number of occasions, however didn’t have a clear view of the bed room.

After a whereas, De Paula mentioned, she fled the toilet, ran via the bed room and into the kitchen. A nude Weinstein adopted her there, she mentioned.

“He was transferring towards me. I obtained scared, and I used to be afraid,” De Paula mentioned.

He was transferring towards me. I obtained scared, and I used to be afraid.

Juliana De Paula, former mannequin

She reached for a wine glass, broke it, brandished it, and gave Weinstein an ultimatum: “You let me out of right here proper now, or that is going to have critical penalties.”

She mentioned Weinstein, laughing, requested, “Are you critical?” earlier than permitting her to depart.

The subsequent day, De Paula informed her then-roommate concerning the alleged episode with Weinstein. The roommate informed The Times that he remembered the dialog, recalling a “distressed” De Paula describing the occasions at Weinstein’s loft.

"Mr. Weinstein says the story is a fabrication,” mentioned Hofmeister, Weinstein’s spokeswoman.

A number of months after the alleged incident, De Paula went to a Dec. 5 live performance at Cipriani Wall Road the place Aretha Franklin carried out. Weinstein’s attendance was famous in a press launch recapping the occasion.

“He got here up to me, tremendous good — it appeared prefer it was anyone else,” mentioned De Paula, who now lives in Brazil. “I didn’t have the braveness to take a look at him. I seemed down.”

Weinstein requested for her cellphone quantity. She declined.

Fashion seems inward

As with Hollywood, the Weinstein scandal has prompted the fashion business to ponder how ladies are handled and whether or not it's doing sufficient to defend weak individuals.

A number of individuals interviewed for this text acknowledged that Weinstein had, for years, a poor repute within the fashion business, however little if something was ever executed to highlight this. Some are hoping for large adjustments. On Tuesday, the Mannequin Alliance, a nonprofit commerce group, issued a assertion saying, “No particular person ought to tolerate any form of undesirable or inappropriate conduct, nor ought to our business.”

Brock mentioned that she hopes her private story about Weinstein may assist spur change within the business.

“I hope that from this second on, younger ladies, from each nation, begin to worth themselves as greater than the objects the business has all the time handled them as,” she mentioned.


Workers author Victoria Kim contributed to this report.

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How Harvey Weinstein used his fashion business as a pipeline to models - Los Angeles Times