For a man who is constantly in the news, American Apparel CEO Dov Charney is not photographed often he rarely appears at parties and red-carpet events, and most shots of him are press photos. These images seem to emerge when Charney is doing press to battle the latest highly publicized pox on his empire, whether it's a sexual-harassment lawsuit, the possibility of bankruptcy, or threats to be removed from the stock exchange. Carefully crafted, they sometimes feature supporting actors such as dogs, Charney's employees, and his mannequins. Click through for a brief history of Charney photos.
October 21, 2005
Charney made a rare red-carpet appearance at the L.A. Fashion Awards to accept the "Marketing Excellence" prize. With unkempt hair and a puffy vest, he's scruffier than he will appear in the future, perhaps still able to brush off the sexual allegations contained in a 2004 Jane magazine article and in summer 2005 lawsuits filed by three ex–American Apparel employees.
April 1, 2008
Taken in a Santa Monica store, this photo accompanied an L.A. Times profile. At the time, Charney was embroiled in a suit filed by Woody Allen, who was upset that Charney used Annie Hall imagery on AA billboards. Charney's facial hair is neater than usual, and his serious expression says he would never wrong a fellow artist.
Later in 2008, Charney faced his fifth sexual-harassment lawsuit, filed by an AA employee who claimed he once stormed into her office and demanded she pretend to masturbate for him. This followed another crazy story in The Wall Street Journal, in which Charney called his CFO a "complete loser" (the CFO quit shortly thereafter). But Charney, as he often seems to do, found a moment of zen with his camera in a Claremont, California, fitting room. The resulting photos portrayed him as the type of strange middle-aged man who posts self-taken photos of himself online.
September 21, 2008
The fall of 2008 was a coup for Charney, and not just because he started to look clean — he landed the cover of Condé Nast's now-defunct business magazine Portfolio. The weirdly friendly image of Charney in bed was appropriate for the weirdly friendly interactions described in the piece: The writer hung out with Charney in his bedroom, where she got a glimpse of the "assistant of sorts" who also lived with the CEO. "I used to have girls around, but it’s easier with boys," Charney said.
With the Allen case seemingly headed to court, Charney again sought solace with a mirror and his camera, this time in New York City. The gallery was posted to American Apparel's site.
March 17, 2009
Taken at an unknown studio date in 2009, and distributed to photo wires. American Apparel had just narrowly escaped bankruptcy, and this casual look screams, "What, me worry?"
May 21, 2009
The Allen case was settled for $5 million. To celebrate, Charney wears a slightly nicer shirt than usual and holds his almost whisker-free chin high — but his wary stance suggests new battles to come.
April 1, 2010
Charney posed with one of his factory workers when financials were getting very messy for American Apparel following the forced termination of 1,500 illegal immigrants. Immigration reform is one of Charney's pet causes, but his awkward grip on this lady foreshadows the pet photos to come.
July 29, 2010
Charney was at his neatest and most CEO-like in a series of shots taken for Bloomberg. In this poignant moment, the man with his mannequins looks as unhappy about those pink shorts as his growing chorus of critics were. Glasses make an appearance.
July 29, 2010
Inside the store, a photographer captured Charney caressing his clothing racks like Natalie Portman did her ballet bar in Black Swan. He looks miserable.
Finally, in what seemed like a big "eff you" to those who criticized Charney for admitting he conducts business in bed, the CEO released an ad campaign depicting him sitting on a bed with two of his female employees (and a puppy! aw?). It's meant to look friendly and happy — Charney is downright frustrated on his business call! — but, like American Apparel's ads, inevitably feels like the beginning of a hipster porn sequence.
March 23, 2011
This photo, courtesy of American Apparel, ran in WWD alongside a story that announced the hire of rock-star retail executive Marty Staff, who will hopefully whip American Apparel into shape. Again, the public sees Charney in the workplace, clutching another living being. This is not the first time Charney has posed with a dog: He cuddled a canine for the December 2008 cover of Pig magazine. The effort to soften his image is undermined by his stiffness.
April 14, 2011
This photo of Charney being jovial with the workers in his factory ran in Thursday's New York Times with a long profile about the executive, who explains he just wants to live the way Hugh Hefner did in the seventies. Well, this photo may show that he's on the right track: In E!'s show about the Playboy Mansion, The Girls Next Door, we see that when Hef isn't with his hot ladies, he's being totally platonically friendly with his elderly assistant in the attic, who looks nothing like a Playboy bunny.
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