Several reports claim that designer Alexander Wang (otherwise known for star-studded bashes) sexually assaulted multiple male and trans models after drugging them with MDMA at parties. According to WWD many have accused him of being a ‘sexual predator’ by drugging drinks and sexually assaulting them.The initial claims were posted on Instagram by industry watchdog Sh*t Model Management and model Owen Mooney, who shared his story on TikTok, claimed Wang had groped him at a crowded NYC club in 2017. This isn’t a flash in the pan as in the last couple of years half a dozen male models shared with the New York Times that veteran photographers Bruce Webber and Mario Testino sexually exploited them. This merits a debate back home – how safe are Indian models considering they have even less work in the fashion space. Also, how designers in the position of power feel they could get away with anything.
Designer Gaurav Khanijo who collaborates with an array of male models shares, “Wang’s case shows that when one achieves power and position in any field one often tends to take things for granted. Sooner or later the bubble bursts. A model who I often work with shared with me how a designer from Shahpur Jat called him to his room and asked him to strip. I’ve built a friendly and professional equation with my models and they’ve told me all kinds of stories on how they’ve been exploited and harrased. Also, these sort of controversies tend to stereotype designers and our industry at large. With Wang controversy still boiling, I see new names coming out in a few days.”
Model Gagandeep Plaha who was propositioned twice to get a show shares, “To be honest, I have been asked for it twice to get a show, but I said no and that’s it. I’m so happy to see toxic people getting exposed and I’m sure it’s not just Alexander Wang but there must be many. As creative professionals we need to create a safe environment for everyone.”
Model Amit Ranjan shares that the ones in the position of power have always tried to take advantage of the vulnerable.”It’s a human thing and fashion is not immune to this. Yes, it’s everywhere, but in the end, it’s also an individual choice on where to draw the line and pay the price. The problem is that we should have a system where one can freely report and be protected,” says Amit.
Stylist Kshitij Kankaria says, “I think people need to report any sort of harassment not to just make their case clear, but for giving a warning to others from the predatory behaviour and let the predator know the consequences of it all. I’m happy that people are coming forward and speaking up.”