Update Feb. 17, 2018: David Bellemere has been named, along with Greg Kadel and Patrick Demarchelier in the new Boston Globe expose Beauty and the Ugly Truth. I am very confident that we did not have these issues in the 10 years I was at the highest levels of Victoria's Secret, as David Bellemere wasn't yet shooting for the brand. And I stand behind the integrity of the photographers that I knew. (Note that Greg Kadel has also been suspended from VS and an outside investigation has been launched.)
My October 2017 comments about these specific complaints by Sara Sampaio against David Bellemere, comparing this event to Terry Richardson, may not be as informed as I would like. My sense now is that Sampaio was addressing a much larger reputation about David Bellemere than I understood, and his alleged transgressions with the Angels. I remember a NYC lunch with another photographer who knows Bellemere well, and when his name came up in relationship to his sexy photoshoots, we discussed his sensual lens but with no references by the photographer friend to Bellemere's alleged sexual aggression. This man would know.
Because I am a champion of women's sensuality when it is owned by her, perhaps the photographer decided against making a more forward comment about Bellemere's techniques. Like it was a boys club sort of thing. Bottom line, I have not been exposed to stories about David Bellemere and when a guy starts shooting a more sensual lens for Marie Claire, well I thought that was progress for women. What can I say! ~ Anne
Top model and Victoria's Secret Angel Sara Sampaio covers the October 2017 issue of Lui magazine. Sampaio is styled by Dan Sablon in workout wear for sizzling images lensed by David Bellemere./ Hair by Ward Stegerhoek; makeup by Courtney Perkins.
AOC is sharing the David Bellemere editorial because it's in wide circulation and for a decade we've written about positive sensuality within a strong feminist mindset. We would take down the images immediately at the request of either David Bellemere or Sara Sampaio. AOC is also sharing the editorial knowing that Sara Sampaio has alleged that the shoot violates her policy of no nudity, adding a clause to that effect in the agreement covering the shoot. Despite this, Sampaio says, she was "aggressively pressured to do nude shots on set." Fashionista covered the grievance, writing:
While reviewing the final images, Sampaio noticed there were shots in which parts of her body had accidentally been exposed, and reiterated that those were not to be used. Instead, Lui published a nude cover image of Sampaio. As a result, the model says she has been working with her agency and attorney to bring suit against Lui for making her feel "violated, mistreated and disrespected as a professional and as a woman."
Like so many other models, this is not the first time Sampaio felt pressure to get naked on set. She says that she has been "bullied" by people who went so far as to show her previous nude photos of herself in an effort to pressure into doing so again. Sampaio rightly points out that posing naked once does not obligate her to do so again, saying: "Just because I've consented to posing nude in the past, it does not give anyone the permission to assume I would do so again under any circumstance."
I'm struggling to understand all the issues here, because 1) the images are very tasteful and 2) it's impossible that as such a seasoned, successful model as Sampaio working with a high-established, credentialed photographer of sensual women like David Bellemere for Lui magazine, would strike these poses without understanding the possibility of skin revelation.
Granted it's a judgement call, but AOC does not routinely publish high-volume reads from Lui or Maxim and other magazines, if I feel that the women are demeaned or just function as guy eye candy in a totally superficial way.
Sampaio's Victoria's Secret contract certainly has a clause dealing with this nudity issue, but VS Angels have been taking off their clothes for a long time now, especially photographed by veteran VS photographer Russell James. It seems Sampaio expected her nipple to be photoshopped out in the images. I honestly don't know.
Culturally in America, we are dealing with seismic accusations around sexual harassment and sexual assault with men like Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, and countless other male stars. It's important that women -- the vast majority of victims, which is not to deny male victims -- always take the high road in our serious accusations around this issue.
I'm not disputing Sara Sampaio's statements in any way -- not having the foggiest notion of what went down in the Lui shoot. But my radar is way up on this entire conversation and I refuse to put David Bellemere anywhere close to Terry Richardson in the epic conversation going on around photographers, men in Hollywood, and powerful men everywhere. I think Sara Sampaio should use her podium to clarify this entire conversation from her point of view, because her statement and accusations have me very confused ~ Anne