Late designer Karl Lagerfeld once said famously: "Fashion is neither moral nor immoral." Those who witnessed this week's scene at the prestigious Hamiltons Gallery in central London's upmarket Mayfair district might, however, choose to disagree.
For here, controversial celebrity photographer Mario Testino, once best known for his stunning portraits of Diana, Princess of Wales, was launching his new exhibition and enjoying the adulation of some very loyal friends.
Kate Moss giggled happily in Testino's ear, while male supermodel David Gandy posed for pictures. Duran Duran star Nick Rhodes, celebrity hairdresser Sam McKnight and make-up entrepreneur Charlotte Tilbury also cosied up to the photographer, admiring his new pictures — chiefly enormous depictions of naked, colourfully tattooed Japanese men intimately entwined with each other.
This public salute comes despite Testino, 65, remaining accused of systematic and humiliating sexual misconduct, with no less than 13 accusers levelling charges against him.
In January 2018, eight men — assistants and models — spoke to the New York Times, accusing him of harassment and assault, which they said was habitual and an open secret. Five others subsequently revealed similar stories. Two said Testino had masturbated on them, or in front of them.
This week one of these accusers, Roman Barrett, 45, spoke exclusively to the Daily Mail, describing Testino's behaviour as "notorious".
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Barrett, who modelled in a Pepsi commercial before working for the Peruvian photographer as an assistant when he was 25, said the photographer rubbed up against his leg with an erection and masturbated in front of him.
"He misbehaved in hotel rooms, the backs of cars and on first-class flights. Then things would go back to normal, and that made you feel gaslighted," he said.
Another assistant, Shaun Hartas, said: "I worked with him for 15 months and for 15 months I was harassed. It never stopped. Every day he would sit in the front of the car and try to grab my genitals."
Meanwhile Ryan Locke, a Gucci model, described the photographer as a "sexual predator". He said that while shooting a campaign, Testino sent his assistants out of the room, climbed on top of him and said: "I'm the girl and you're the boy." He, too, described Testino as "notorious" on the model circuit for his behaviour.
You might wonder then, with such devastating accusations swirling around him, why Testino is not only being lauded by his celebrity chums, but is still enjoying a lucrative career?
His latest high-profile assignment — a cosy family photoshoot with reality TV megastar Kim Kardashian and her children — was published on the star's Instagram account just this week.
Testino, too, remains active on Instagram, and of his 3.8 million followers, dozens are high-profile names. His posts remain "liked", and the comments section is filled with messages such as "I LOVE YOU" from dedicated followers.
Disgrace, it seems, has never been less out of fashion.
Indeed, Testino has somehow clung on to connections in the fashion world, with his business still making a healthy profit.
When those terrible allegations surfaced in 2018, the fallout appeared immediate. Magazine empire Conde Nast promised to stop working with him, as did fashion houses Burberry, Michael Kors and Stuart Weitzman.
Annabel's private club in Mayfair said he would no longer be sitting on its cultural committee. So convinced was Testino that his career had been dealt a fatal blow, I can reveal, he sold his house in Los Angeles.
It went on the market months after his alleged victims came forward and sold last month for about $8 million. In 2018 he shut his New York creative agency, Mario testino+, a year after it opened to focus on shooting private portraits of super-wealthy individuals.
Yet despite public expressions of horror at his alleged behaviour, it seems Testino — who has not been charged with any sexual offence — has begun a comeback, resurfacing in London, where he now lives in a flat worth several million dollars in Holland Park.
Neighbours in the well-heeled area — who see him eating at a local Italian restaurant — note he remains single.
He still runs a studio and office in Notting Hill, and although nobody there was willing to talk about him this week, they were able to confirm he does indeed work there. The most recent accounts filed for his company Amaazing Limited reveal a healthy bottom line.
Yet what is at stake for Testino is the esteem of the fashion world. He spent decades on the speed-dial of glossy magazine editors — even taking Anna Wintour's passport pictures for her, such was his deep friendship with the American Vogue editor.
Vastly lucrative campaigns for major fashion houses, photoshoots with everyone from Brad Pitt to Beyonce, and sustained royal patronage were his and his alone. He shot Prince Harry's 18th birthday portrait, Prince William's engagement photos, and, more recently, the christening of Princess Charlotte.
Such was the scale of his all-conquering juggernaut of a career, you can see why Testino is now so desperate to regain his position at the top of the tree — despite the ignominy that follows the claims against him.
None of which surprises alleged victim Roman Barrett. "He was running a circuit with me and other models. It was a case of going as far as he could, always pushing it further and further to see how far he could go." He added: "It was all done in an off-handed, casual way as if it was normal. He would shrug off the behaviour, saying it was just a way of paying you a compliment.
"At that time he was based in Paris then he made the move over to America. I used to think, you had better stop with all this stuff with the models because that isn't going to go down well in America.
"It went on and on. After around a year I thought I will go and get another job. He was notorious for it." Barrett said Testino is addicted to the limelight and desperate to claw back former glories.
"He's a huge narcissist, which I think you need to be for the job," he told me. "When I was working with him, he would say things like: 'It's amazing. I have 65 pages of editorial out this month.'
"For him to come back it wouldn't be enough to shoot Kate [Moss]. He would have to shoot Kate for British Vogue. I think he would rather have had it, have been the greatest in the world and had all the fame, and then lost it, than to not have had it at all."
When asked about those seemingly keen to be associated with Testino, Barrett says scathingly: "If people think they can associate with him now, that is their choice and their decision, but I would say it might be bad for business."
Numerous other serious allegations have been made.
Model Jason Fedele, whom Testino photographed for Gucci, said if you wanted to work for him, you would be invited to do a nude shoot in his bungalow at the Chateau Marmont in LA.
He also claimed Testino had "reached" for a towel covering his modesty during one shoot. Taber, another model who worked with Testino, said the snapper stuck his hand down the back of his trousers and also turned up at his hotel room asking for sex.
An assistant, Hugo Tillman, said Testino had climbed on top of him in a hotel room during a business trip and pinned his arms down.
He submitted testimony to the New York City Commission on Human Rights in 2017.
Speaking anonymously, another assistant said his trousers were pulled down and buttocks fondled. Another anonymous man said Testino masturbated on him during a business trip.
Producer Thomas Hargreave told how he had seen Testino with "his hands down people's pants at least 10 times".
He added: "Mario behaved often as if it was all a big joke. But it wasn't funny."
Such allegations — coming as they did not long after Harvey Weinstein's downfall — were a bombshell. Testino immediately engaged the services of Marty Singer, an entertainment lawyer notorious for his pitbull aggression. He represented actor Jim Carrey after his girlfriend's suicide, John Travolta over talk of gay trysts, Halle Berry — who was being sued over a hit-and-run car accident — and Sharon Stone in her toxic divorce. Stone said: 'Marty's such a badass mother******.'
Singer also represented Bill Cosby, later jailed for drugging and sexually assaulting women, and claimed his accusers were extortionists trying to "shake" Cosby down.
Singer quickly got to work and, in a letter to the New York Times, said the individuals accusing Testino could not be considered reliable sources, and two were disgruntled former employees. The letter called Tillman's mental health into question and said Fedele had been photographed nude by others.
Since then, Singer has said not a word in response to media queries, and declines to respond when asked if any legal action has been taken by them against the complainants or if the complainants have taken any against Testino.
Roman Barrett told me he has not had any contact from Testino's lawyers. It is his belief they're hoping the fuss will go away.
Now, tentatively, Testino seems to be testing the water for a full-on return to business as usual.
This week's exhibition appears to be the most public display of a delicate, slow-boil return which began less than 12 months after the accusations came to light.
In November 2018, Testino was seen meeting lifestyle entrepreneur Ivan Pun in Myanmar. Pun said: "I am not working on a project with Mario. He's just a friend who was passing through town."
British artist Damien Hirst showed no such qualms and asked Testino to take pictures while he painted dots on his model girlfriend Sophie Amber Cannell in August this year. Then, in October, the first hint of his project with Kim Kardashian was revealed when Testino posted on Instagram a photo of the reality star in a towelling robe, one of his so-called Towel Series where he photographs celebrities in their dressing gowns.
His caption began: "I always wanted to do a Towel Series with Kim, but it wasn't until she asked me to do a portrait of her and her family that I had the chance. When I arrived at their house, she was wearing a bathrobe and nothing else, but I thought it just looked so perfect ... "
Testino's friends say he has also booked around 10 beauty and fragrance campaigns since the allegations came to light.
So why hasn't the fashion world cut him off as brutally as other famous men accused of sexual misconduct?
Some insist he has been damaged — Conde Nast still won't touch him and it seems not one of its employees attended this week's exhibition.
Anna Wintour herself released a strong statement over the allegations (which also included separate sexual misconduct against photographer Bruce Weber) that read: "I believe strongly in the value of remorse and forgiveness, but I take the allegations very seriously, and we at Conde Nast have decided to put our working relationship with both photographers on hold for the foreseeable future."
Earlier this year, Testino said: "I continue to deny any wrongdoing. However, in the current environment, accusations like the ones levelled against me have proved to be just as damning and devastating as actual proof of wrongdoing, which they are not."
Accused as he may be, Testino is a charismatic figure and the fashion world is equally well known for its disposable morals.
Two months after the Testino scandal broke, Conde Nast released new guidelines for its photoshoots.
It prohibits "sexual advances or propositions" and "any type of sexual activity or contact", forbids the hiring of models under 18, and requires images involving nudity, swimwear, lingerie or suggestive poses to be approved in advance by the subject.
But money talks. Dented as he might be by disgrace, there's no doubt fashionistas are starting to flock back to Testino's side.
- additional reporting: Stephanie Condron