A successful clothing designer reflects on her damaged upbringing and early years as a Paris-based fashion model.
Using letters, journals, and “thousands of photos,” Dodd reinvigorates her life as a struggling 1980s-era model. Though critical and cursory, an invaluable evaluation by Wilhelmina Models in 1979 opened a portal into the French modeling world, resulting in dispiriting culture shock and a hefty dose of disillusionment. Barely 20 years old at the time, the author writes of being whisked off to Paris, where an aloof agency booker dispatched her to endless dead-end “Go-Sees.” Dodd eventually warmed up to the whirlwind of Parisian life and began booking photo shoots, magazine covers, and a dangerous series of social engagements with upscale businessmen, where her role was sketchy at best and she was sexually assaulted along with another model. Interspersed with the author’s tales of her modeling career are details about her complicated, abusive Los Angeles upbringing at the hands of a sexually inappropriate father whom she both feared and worshipped and an “emotionally checked out” mother. As she climbed the international fashion industry’s “slippery steep model ladder,” Dodd’s memories move briskly across fashion runways and photography shoots in Paris, London, Greece, and Spain. She fell into a troublesome and treacherous relationship with Adnan Khashoggi, a billionaire Middle Eastern arms dealer who promised Dodd the world but instead introduced her to cocaine and simply made her one in a harem of women at his disposal. Dodd writes earnestly and refreshingly about learning many of life’s more difficult lessons the hard way, and while her recollections are narrowly focused to just a few years during the 1980s, readers still receive a generous sense of who she was back then and how her later degree in fashion merchandising provided the perfect transition from model to successful clothing designer.
A breezy, impressively detailed glimpse into a beautiful young woman’s self-discovery via the world of international fashion.