Supermodel Carre Otis Is Blasting Elite Over Former Boss Gerald Marie

Carré Otis desires justice, however she additionally desires change. The 52-year-old former supermodel—the one-time face of Guess, Calvin Klein, and different defining manufacturers of the ’90s—has already introduced a lawsuit in opposition to the modeling govt she says repeatedly raped her at age 17. However now she is looking on his former company, Elite, to ensure this by no means occurs to a different mannequin once more.

“I believe survivors nonetheless face the identical challenges [I did] in terms of talking up and talking out—whether or not it’s a menace to their carers, to their lives, to their wellbeing,” the mannequin, who now goes by her married title, Sutton, advised The Each day Beast this week. “However we’ve got not seen the extent of accountability that we have to see on this trade.”

Sutton filed a lawsuit earlier this month accusing former Elite Mannequin Administration govt Gerald Marie of sexually assaulting her a number of instances within the Eighties. On Monday, she introduced the decision to the highest of the corporate’s ranks—CEO Julie Haart.

In an open letter in partnership with the Mannequin Alliance, a fashions’ rights nonprofit, Sutton asks Haart and Elite to publicly handle the claims and make significant modifications to the best way they do enterprise. Among the many ideas is signing onto the RESPECT Program, a code of conduct that the Alliance created in collaboration with greater than 100 fashions. (Elite could be the primary firm to affix this system; similar calls to have Victoria’s Secret signal on following a New York Occasions expose on its office tradition had been unsuccessful.)

The letter accuses Haart of presenting herself as an advocate for ladies whereas profiting off her company’s sordid previous, and failing to make significant commitments to alter.

“Because the world’s largest conglomerate of modeling companies, Elite World Group has the facility to essentially shift the modeling trade and finish the cycle of abuse,” the letter states. “Will you utilize it?”

Carré Otis arrives to the Vogue occasion throughout Milan’s trend week in 2005.

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

In an announcement, Elite World Group stated Marie’s contract with its precursor, Elite Mannequin Administration, resulted in 2010, and that Marie had by no means labored for the corporate below Haart or the remainder of its present possession. (Elite World Group bought the mannequin administration firm in 2011.)

“Elite World Group is dedicated to offering a protected setting for our fashions and skills,” a spokesperson stated. “We go away no room for any type of abuse, harassment, discrimination and/or gender bias and have a zero tolerance coverage, and can proceed to take action.”

Sutton’s modeling journey began as one thing of a Cinderella story: as a 16-year-old runaway, she was noticed by a mannequin scout within the Bay Space and whisked off to work with Elite in New York. However when her profession in New York didn’t take off instantly, Otis claims she was instructed to fly to Paris and stay with Marie, then the company’s European president, in his private house. Whereas there, she claims, Marie repeatedly raped her and despatched her out to be abused by his rich and highly effective associates. When Sutton protested this remedy shortly after she turned 18, she claims, she was kicked out of Marie’s house and transferred to Milan.

Sutton was the primary lady to publicly accuse Marie of sexual assault—in her 2011 memoir Magnificence, Disrupted—however she was not the final. Final yr, the Guardian published interviews with 15 different girls who accused him of sexual misconduct starting from sexual harassment to rape. French police began an investigation into comparable allegations final September; they’ve reportedly invited 11 girls to take part in interviews.

Attorneys for Marie didn’t instantly reply to an electronic mail looking for remark. Calls to his legal professional’s workplace weren’t answered. His authorized crew beforehand stated he was “extraordinarily affected by the accusations made in opposition to him, which he contests with the utmost firmness,” and that he “intends to actively take part within the manifestation of the reality throughout the scope of the opened prison investigation.”


Elite’s founder, John Casablancas, has additionally been accused of sexual abuse, together with in a 2002 lawsuit that claimed he engaged in “a sample of seducing, sexually exploiting and/or abusing minor ladies, together with ladies as younger as 14 or 15 years previous.” Casablancas’ attorneys on the time claimed the allegations had been with out benefit, and the lawsuit was dismissed for jurisdictional points, however he had already overtly admitted to “relationship” 16-year-old Stephanie Seymour in 1983, when he was 41. Ten years later, he married his third spouse, mannequin Aline Wermelinger, when she was 17. Casablancas died in 2013.

Julia Haart couldn’t appear extra totally different than the lads who ran Elite earlier than her. A former Orthodox Jew, Haart left her neighborhood, modified her title, and divorced her husband in 2012, in hopes of discovering private freedom. (“After I left, I wore the lowest-cut tops I might discover, the shortest shorts,” she as soon as advised The New York Times.) She launched her personal, eponymous shoe line simply months later, and shortly thereafter turned the artistic director of luxurious lingerie model La Perla. In 2019, she signed on as CEO of Elite World Group, the father or mother firm of Elite Mannequin Administration.

In interviews and in her new Netflix sequence, My Unorthodox Life, Haart presents herself as a champion of ladies, who left her conservative neighborhood partly to offer her daughter a greater life. Earlier this yr, she advised the Occasions she initially resisted the concept of taking up Elite as a result of “in my thoughts, the modeling trade was younger girls being paraded in entrance of males getting advised, ‘You’re ugly, you’re fats.’” She stated she solely took over after her husband insisted she might use the place to make change from the within, and “put the facility within the palms of the ladies.”

“My objective is to assist create a military of financially unbiased, sturdy girls who won’t ever need to ask permission and by no means really feel lower than nice,” she advised the Los Angeles Times in July.

That’s why Sutton says it’s notably hurtful that Haart and Elite didn’t have a extra proactive response to her allegations. (The corporate referred to as Marie’s alleged actions “egregious and abhorrent,” when contacted about them by the Guardian final yr.)

“I’ve been a bit shocked and disturbed that Julia had by no means reached out to this group of survivors and to myself,” Sutton stated. “Anybody creating wealth off the again of such a darkish historical past—it needs to be a dialog.”

“Julia has an choice to be an agent of change,” she added. “So I actually hope she accepts the decision to motion that we’re asking of her.”

Elite Mannequin Administration held a roundtable with its fashions in 2018 to deal with sexual misconduct allegations in opposition to photographers and stylists that had surfaced through the #MeToo motion. The corporate said at the time that it was engaged on creating a code of conduct and polling fashions about their experiences and concepts. Butterfly Cayley, who was then Elite’s govt vp, addressed the allegations in opposition to Casablancas, saying: “We all know our historical past. It doesn’t outline us. How can we transfer on? How can we make issues proper? It’s giving the ladies their voices and empowering them to take action.”

However Sara Ziff, the chief director of the Mannequin Alliance, stated she is bored with seeing guarantees of change with out agency commitments. For an anti-harassment program to work, she stated, “there must be a binding dedication to alter and an unbiased channel to carry ahead complaints”—one thing she has but to see from a modeling company.

The Alliance runs a hotline that working fashions can name to report abuses, and Ziff stated she steadily receives allegations of prison habits, together with intercourse trafficking. An anonymous survey of 85 fashions the group carried out in 2012 discovered 28 p.c of them had felt pressured to have intercourse with somebody at work and 29 p.c had skilled sexual harassment. “This isn’t one thing that simply occurred 30 years in the past,” Ziff stated. “That is one thing that’s nonetheless taking place to today.”

Sutton finally switched companies and went on to have a massively profitable profession, modeling for everybody from Calvin Klein to Playboy. However, she says, the abuses of her youth adopted her, leaving her with an consuming dysfunction and drug abuse points that she particulars overtly in her memoir.

She stated she had not wished to take authorized motion in opposition to Marie till Invoice Cosby’s sexual assault conviction was overturned earlier this yr.

“It blew me out of the water, it was so distressing,” she stated of the choice to free Cosby. “And I felt prefer it was actually my responsibility, my responsiblity to do all that I can to see there’s change inside all industries in terms of sexual violence.”

Otis filed her swimsuit below the Little one Victims Act, a New York regulation handed in 2019 that allowed survivors of childhood sexual abuse a two-year “lookback window” wherein to file previous claims. Because of this regulation, Otis is the one sufferer who is thought to have been in a position to take authorized motion in opposition to Marie; the remaining are outdoors the statute of limitations.

However she stated her focus wasn’t on seeing the previous mannequin boss locked away, it was on seeing how the trade would reply to her claims.

“Justice for me isn’t placing somebody in jail,” she stated. “Justice for me actually is about seeing change on this trade.”

She added: “I’m on this for the lengthy haul, and for all these different survivors who haven’t got the chance to talk out or file a declare.” | Supermodel Carre Otis Is Blasting Elite Over Former Boss Gerald Marie


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