THING OF BEAUTY by Stephen Fried


The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia
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 Investigative journalist Fried's biography of model-turned- heroin-addict Gia Carangi is more than your usual riches-to-rags downer, thanks to fascinating fashion-biz detail. Born in Philadelphia to semi-prosperous parents who split up when she was 11, Gia grew up wild. In high school, she dressed flamboyantly (e.g., wearing a quilted red satin jumpsuit and platform boots), smoked pot and swallowed Quaaludes, and was a lesbian and proud of it. After a local fashion photographer took shots of her, Gia, then 18, was offered a contract with a top N.Y.C. modeling agency. Within months of her move to Manhattan, she was being photographed by camera stars like Helmut Newton, Arthur Elgort, and Francesco Scavullo. Her attitude hit the late-70's Zeitgeist dead on: Gia dressed in men's clothes, wore no makeup, and cultivated an authority-be-damned attitude. As one editor put it: ``She had that boy/girl thing, and it was sexy.'' While Gia was late for shoots from the beginning, it was only later that her increasingly bizarre antics revealed that she had a serious heroin problem. In 1981, she moved back to Philadelphia, made various attempts to kick her habit and come back as a cover girl, but was diagnosed as HIV-positive. She died of AIDS in 1986. Fried offers a seamless narrative based on copious research, but, even so, Gia registers here as little more than a shallow kid with natural good looks and a mile-wide self-destructive steak. More rewarding are the highly detailed portraits of supporting players: the photographers, fashion editors, and models whose trajectories of fame coincided with that of the doomed model. A refreshingly undazzled take on the daily workings of the fashion scene. (First serial to Vanity Fair)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-70104-5
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993


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