Over the weekend, Valentino uploaded a series of campaign images for its new accessories range on Instagram, but one image in particular seemed to get a few people all hot and bothered for some reason.
A self-portrait of Michael Bailey Gates, the photographer who shot the images, was the target of some nasty online comments regarding his androgynous and gender-fluid appearance. In the photo, which has received over 10,000 comments to-date (versus the 50 or so average for the rest of the campaign images), Gates is seen with a long mane and some body hair wearing nothing and holding a Valentino rockstud bag. He has since made his IG account private.
In response to the hateful comments, the brand's creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli re-posted the image on his own account in support of Gates, saying his job is to deliver his vision of beauty according to the time we are living. "This picture is a self portrait of young beautiful man and evil is in the eye of the beholder, not in his naked body," he wrote. "We have to stand against and condemn all form of violence, hate, discrimination and racism and I'm proud to use my voice and my work to do so, now and forever."
Piccioli's post was met with praise by many in the fashion community, including Inez and Vinoodh, Diet Prada, Bryanboy and Karla Welch. See his full comments in the post, below.