Updated: Oct 12, 2021
Photographs: Carré Sutton & Gérald Marie (Foc Kan/Wireimage)
As sexual assault allegations against former Elite Model Management executive Gérald Marie flood in, ugly truths of the fashion industry are being brought to light. Marie, deemed a pillar of the European fashion industry in the 1980s, used his fashion influence to take advantage of models. Young women who wanted a chance in the modeling industry are now coming forward against Marie, exposing the sickening reality they faced while rising to stardom.
Carré Sutton was 16 when she moved by herself to New York City after being signed to Elite Model Management in 1984. As a young model, she was taken under the wing of powerful management executives including Gérald Marie. While it was protection Marie offered Sutton, he abused his position to continuously sexually assault the teen. She was relocated to Paris, where she was told to be obedient to Marie to survive in the modeling industry. Sutton was assaulted by Marie at house parties and at his apartment, as well as trafficked to wealthy European men with powerful modeling agency connections. Marie’s power came from blackmailing Sutton with threats of lost opportunities if she resisted. His position as an executive of her agency allowed him to follow through on these threats, canceling shoots and bookings whenever Sutton refused to comply. When Sutton did comply, she was rewarded with success and stardom, being featured on magazines like Elle, Vogue and Cosmopolitan.
Sutton was not the only model who Marie abused. Laurie Marsden, another powerful voice in the allegations against Gérald Marie, was 19 at a 1982 house party when Marie attempted to rape her. Lesa Amoore and Emily Mott have recently come forward with harrowingly similar stories, creating patterns of assault and disempowerment of the women in Gérald Marie’s agency. The women are now standing in solidarity while coming forward with official allegations against Marie. From entering the model industry at a young age, they were exposed to its dark side, which they are now bringing to light.
Through the New York State’s Child Victim’s Act, victims of sexual assault can come forward years in the future so long as they were minors when the assaults occurred. Prompted by Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein’s assault cases, eleven models have come forward against the powerful former executive. Previously, Marie’s influence in the fashion industry allowed him to be untouchable, filing lawsuits against organizations and individuals coming forward. The collective of individuals coming forward against Gérald Marie allows them to be powerful, thwarting Marie’s efforts to avoid consequences for his past actions.
By exposing predatory individuals and organizations, the models not only have the opportunity to find justice for themselves but also to create a safer environment for young models entering the industry today. Should their lawsuits succeed, they will both find closure with their pasts and break the thread of individuals getting away with assaults because of their fashion industry influence.