The series, which sees new interviews with supermodelsNaomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, and Linda Evangelista, sees allegations against Demarchelier that date back to when the models worked with him as teenagers. In 2018, Demarchelier was accused of sexual harassment by seven women during the #MeToo movement. He died aged 78 in 2022.
In a seated interview, American model Christy Turlington recalls posing for the French photographer topless at 17 years old, while on a cover shoot for British Vogue. “After we finished the shoot, we took a portrait. I had these extensions in my hair, so it was this very long hair. We did a portrait where I was, like, covering [and crosses her hands over her breasts]. The classic covering yourself,” she says, before explaining how she was cajoled into revealing her breasts on set.
“Can you put your arms down a little bit lower, a little bit lower,” she says she was told. “I remember being self-conscious, but I didn’t feel necessarily bad. I felt good from that shoot, I felt pretty in that moment. Patrick didn’t give me the creeps per se, but I do remember being like, ‘Oh my gosh, I shouldn’t be doing this’.
“Eventually, that [topless] image came out on the cover of PHOTO magazine… it was still like, ‘Oh gosh!’ I don’t know what I thought it was for, but I definitely didn’t think it was for a cover of a magazine. I don’t think there was any age that you were supposed to be in order to have a nude picture. I don’t think there was anyone monitoring or regulating any of that,” she claims.
His treatment of women was also alleged by fellow American model Cindy Crawford, who says she was booked for a job in Rome by the photographer early in her career. “Before I went to college, I had been invited to New York by Elite [modelling agency] and went to see a photographer, Patrick Demarchelier. He said fine, I’ll book her to go to Rome, but I want her to cut her hair off,” she says. Crawford and her agency said they would not cut the hair, she says, but she still got the job. “Fine, we’ll take her anyway,” she recalls them saying.
“The very first night [in Rome], they sent the hairdresser to my room to give me a ‘trim’, combed my hair, put it in a ponytail, and chopped my ponytail off — without asking. I was in shock,” she says. “I just sat there in a hotel room in Rome crying. If people wonder why I’ve never really cut my hair again since then, that’s why. Because I was so traumatised… I was not seen as a person who had a voice in her own destiny. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my hair short, it was that I hadn’t voted myself into having short hair,” Crawford says.
When he was initially accused of sexual harassment in 2018, Demarchelier denied the claims, telling The Globe: “People lie and they tell stories.” Vogue publisher Condé Nast announced at the time, “We have informed Patrick we will not be working with him for the foreseeable future.”
The Super Models is available on Apple TV+ from September 20.