Wolfgang Joop has apologized for his statements about women in the fashion industry. The German fashion designer wrote on Instagram and Facebook that he would apologize to all those who were upset or hurt by his statement. In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, Joop said that the fashion world of the past was “so wonderfully junky and frigid”: “Everything was for sale,” says the designer in the interview. “The agencies gave the keys to the models’ rooms, which did not bring that much money, to rich men.” If a “girl” complained about it, it was made clear to the woman that she could do without her. To the interviewer’s subsequent response that this was terrible, the Potsdam native replied: “Yes. But the fashion world is only really beautiful when there is sin too.”
Words that did not go uncommented: the seventy-six-year-old was heavily criticized on Twitter after the misogynistic statements were published. Joop is probably sad that fashion designers can no longer be pimps these days, writes Spiegel editor Anton Rainer on Twitter. “This ignorance about turning sexual abuse into something beautiful, naughty, is simply sick,” complains Juso District President Tim Vollert. And the green MEP Katrin Langensiepen also described Joop’s word choice as “glorification of violence and humiliation of women”.
Not an isolated case in the industry
In Wolfgang Joop’s apology on his social media accounts, however, it is said that the designer pointed out “the corruption and frivolity of the industry of the 1970s and 1980s”, “which unfortunately also included the disrespectful and abusive treatment of models.” His statement was misplaced, and he deeply rejected any form of abuse of power and violence then as now. “The respectful treatment of every human being is my top priority both inside and outside the industry,” Joop concludes in his apology.
The fact that the designer in the Spiegel interview spoke so bluntly about the sexual abuse of women shows what a shocking image of women still reigns in parts of the fashion industry today. And it would not be the first scandal of its kind: Designers, agents and photographers have all been previously accused of sexual violence and abuse of power, including celebrities such as fashion photographer Mario Testino, former Victoria’s Secret marketing manager Ed Razek and former European head of the modeling agency Elite Model Management Gérald Marie.
The latter are accused by several women of sexual abuse or abuse of them in the 1980s and 1990s. “No one intervened,” said affected and former BBC journalist Lisa Brinkworth. “Everyone laughed and clapped. As if it were something very common.” In September 2020, the public prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into the ex-husband of the iconic model Linda Evangelista, which is why 15 complaints were received against Gérald Marie – some of the women were minors at the time of the crime.