Last November, The Blast began an investigation into Guess co-founder Paul Marciano. A woman came forward to tell us her story, but she wished to remain anonymous because she did not want to be the first person to accuse Marciano of wrongdoing.
During the course of our investigation, we uncovered a lawsuit against Marciano by a different woman who claimed he sexually assaulted her. The woman also filed a complaint against Marciano and Guess with the California Department Of Fair Employment and Housing. The lawsuit was settled.
For a variety of reasons — including the fact that the woman ultimately did not want us to publish the story — we decided not to go forward with it at the time.
On January 31, Kate Upton came forward to accuse Marciano of sexual misconduct. In light of this, we spoke to the accuser again and while she wishes to remain anonymous for now — we’ll refer to her as Jane Doe — she gave us her blessing to publish the story.
Marciano denies all the allegations made against him. His statement is included in the story.
A former model has come forward to accuse Guess co-founder Paul Marciano of sexually assaulting her during a private meeting with the fashion mogul.
Jane, at the time an aspiring model, says in 2016 she messaged Marciano through social media after he began following her. The two began messaging back and forth and eventually set up a meeting in March of that year at the Guess headquarters in Los Angeles on a Saturday.
Marciano brought Jane to his office where he talked about the other models’ careers he had nurtured, including Anna Nicole Smith. She says Marciano also criticized models today for being “too skinny,” and that he liked girls with “big boobs,” before taking her to “try on some dresses and outfits.”
According to Jane, Marciano took her in a golf cart to a building on the Guess campus where the design team works. On that day, she says it was completely empty. Jane was given some dresses by Marciano to try on and went behind a curtain to begin undressing.
Marciano opened the curtain, she says, watched her undress, and then began to comment on her body. Jane says she had recently lost weight, and when she told Marciano, he “reached over and pulled my breast out of the dress and said, ‘At least you still have your boobs.'”
Jane says Marciano also tried to kiss her.
“I kind of laughed and said, ‘I have a boyfriend’ and pushed him away,” she says, adding the incident was extremely awkward and uncomfortable and left her stunned.
Jane quickly changed back into her clothes and made her exit. She says Marciano gave her some dresses and a purse as she left.
As for why she didn’t report the incident or confront Marciano, Jane says, “Guess has been my dream ever since I was a little girl. I thought this is how girls get a campaign.”
Jane tells us she shared the story with other friends of hers in the industry, including Guess employees, and said she was told Marciano’s behavior is well known in the fashion world and was told, “That’s just how it goes.” Jane says one female Guess photographer privately disclosed to her that Marciano is known for requesting private photos of models’ breasts from photo shoots.
Paul Marciano denies all the allegations made by Jane Doe. We are told the company conducted an external investigation and found the claims did not have merit. A full statement is included, in its entirety, at the conclusion of the story.
Immediately after the meeting with Marciano, Jane says she sent him a message over social media saying, “so lovely meeting you today, paul! I’ll probably be back early next month. Let me know if you will be in town.” Marciano did not respond.
Jane tells us even though she was bothered by the groping incident, she still wanted to work with Guess for her career and knew Marciano was the gatekeeper.
After the incident, Jane says she took a brief break from modeling because she “was disgusted with the industry and creepy people.”
Jane says she did not hear from Marciano again until March of 2017 when he reached out to her after she posted a new modeling shot.
According to the message, obtained by The Blast, Marciano said, “I am really happy that you went back to the look that you love!! You look great!” Jane told Marciano she felt more comfortable as a voluptuous model, and Marciano responded, “I Love that!!!! Are you [sic] boobs back? Picture?”
Jane asked if she would finally land a Guess shoot if her “boobs were back,” to which Marciano replied, “I haven’t seen you for a year, i want to see them, talk to them.” Jane told Marciano she would be back in town in a couple of weeks.
As for why Jane kept messaging with Marciano, she tells us getting a job was still very important to her, and she thought this was what needed to be done.
A few weeks later, the two messaged again, with Jane telling Marciano she would be in Los Angeles and would like to talk about work. Marciano responded, “You have my WhatsApp. Can you send me boobs shots baby?”
She responded, “Do you not want to work with me?” Marciano said, “Who told you that?” Jane then confronted the Guess founder, saying, “well the last time I saw you you grabbed my boobs when I was changing and I thought you only wanted to bring me there for sex rather than working with me.”
Jane says Marciano was clearly caught off guard and defended himself by saying, “absolutely not,” claiming they only met for five minutes. She says Marciano wrote, “you showed me your boobs to tell me that you didn’t lose any weight.”
Marciano then told Jane to “refresh your memory,” and “I don’t know how and why you will make up these stories.” He then wrote that her texts seemed “very strange. It reads like someone dictates you what to write.”
That was the last conversation the two had.
Jane tells us she felt “assaulted” and that Marciano is “taking advantage of his position of power, and promises a career if you play his game, but he’s just preying on the dreams of young girls.”
Jane says she was empowered to come forward with her story after accusers surfaced against Harvey Weinstein.
Not The First Time Marciano Has Been Accused of Sexual Assault
While The Blast was investigating the recent claim of sexual assault, we were made aware of a lawsuit from 2009 filed by a woman named Lindsey Ring.
Ring claims she was sexually assaulted while working for the company as a fit model, a person who is used by a fashion designer to check the fit of clothing. At the time, Marciano was the co-chairman and co-CEO of Guess.
The lawsuit states that in May 2008, Paul Marciano “began to create a hostile work environment for Ms. Ring by making sexual comments to her, repeatedly touching her inappropriately and without her consent, and attempting on at least two occasions to fondle her sexually after taking her to a private area at the worksite, all of which was offensive to Ms. Ring and would have been offensive to any reasonable person.”
Ring claims during fittings, Marciano “would run his hand up and down her breasts and her buttocks, telling her how nice it felt and commenting on the fit. He would also lean close to her and whisper that he wanted to ‘take her right there,’ that he was upset she was married, that she was beautiful and that he wanted to kiss her.”
She also alleged senior employees at Guess joked that “Paul came to feel the fabric.”
Ring says she complained about the behavior by Marciano but was told her career would be over if she publicly accused the fashion mogul of anything.
She also filed a labor complaint against Marciano and Guess with the California Department Of Fair Employment and Housing, which was closed after she filed the lawsuit.
Ring claims Marciano eventually called her on her personal cell phone and left a rambling message, admitting that his behavior had been wrong and saying he just wanted to see her again.
The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed after the two parties reached a confidential settlement. Lindsey Ring left the modeling world soon after.
Guess tells us they conducted an external investigation after Ring complained, but “did not find evidence to substantiate Ring’s claims of harassment or hostile work environment.”
Paul Marciano Sends Employees to The Blast During Investigation
During the early stages of our investigation — and after we had already begun speaking to a rep for Marciano — two female executives from Guess showed up unannounced at The Blast office in West Hollywood.
By the way … our address was never provided to Marciano’s representative.
Allison Joyce Shafii, Director of Advertising, and Renee Kelly, a VP of advertising, delivered a hand-written note from Marciano, along with several boxes containing the last 20 years of Guess catalogs.
Kelly said she has known Marciano since 1985 and claimed he has been a caring mentor for years, and now even employs her daughter.
The note from Marciano urged us to look at his scope of work in the catalogs provided and asked that we contact any of the models he worked with to ask about his behavior.
We reached out to over 40 models who had worked with Guess at some point in time, including Kate Upton. Only a rep for Ireland Baldwin would comment on the record, saying, “We’ve worked with him many, many times and he’s always been extremely professional.”
In response to our story, Guess gave us the following comment:
Upon being contacted in November by The Blast, the Company immediately investigated with the assistance of outside counsel separate allegations that Mr. Marciano had acted inappropriately with two women.
The investigation determined the following: One allegation was taken from a publicly available lawsuit that was filed in 2009. Mr. Marciano denied the allegation at that time, and a contemporaneous investigation conducted in 2009 by the Company and outside counsel did not corroborate the plaintiff’s claims.
The second allegation concerns an aspiring model who is quoted anonymously in the story claiming inappropriate conduct in March 2016. Mr. Marciano also denies this allegation.
To date, the current investigation has not corroborated either allegation, and the Board of Directors has been unable to determine that either accusation has merit.