Feb 7, 2020
Benetton severs ties with celebrity fashion photographer Oliviero Toscani
Feb 7, 2020
On Thursday, Italian fashion group Benetton announced it was putting a stop to its collaboration with celebrity photographer Oliviero Toscani, following his controversial statements minimising the impact of the Genoa bridge collapse disaster, which killed 43 people in 2018.
The Benetton family is the majority shareholder of the ASPI (Autostrade per l'Italia) group, which was in charge of the upkeep and maintenance of Genoa’s Morandi motorway bridge at the time it collapsed.
“But who’s concerned about a collapsed bridge?” said Toscani in typically provocative style talking on a radio show on Wednesday. He later qualified his statement, saying his words were taken out of context.
“I’m truly sorry that words taken out of context and misunderstood may have led to the crazy notion that the [Morandi] bridge doesn’t matter to me,” Toscani posted on his Twitter account. “Like everyone else, I too am interested in and outraged by this tragedy, but it is absurd that certain journalists should be holding me to account,” he added.
“The Benetton group and its president Luciano Benetton dissociate themselves in the strongest terms from Oliviero Toscani’s statements regarding the Morandi bridge collapse, and acknowledge that it is impossible to continue to collaborate with creative director [Oliviero Toscani],” the group stated in a press release. “Luciano Benetton and the entire group would once again like to say they are close to the families of the victims and to all those who were affected by this terrible strategy,” the statement concluded.
Since the early 80s, Toscani has built his career on outrageous, provocative images, shooting advertising campaigns for Benetton that some found shocking in which he portrayed, among others, a man dying of AIDS (in 1992), US death-row convicts (in 2000), a black woman breast-feeding a white baby and a nun hugging a young priest.
Several of Toscani’s campaigns for United Colors of Benetton were banned in Italy, notably one featuring two men kissing on the lips. In 2012, Toscani presented a calendar in Florence with shots of 12 penises, following the one in 2011 featuring 12 pictures of the female pubic area.
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