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Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women

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Model is the definitive story of the international modeling business -- and its evil twin: legalized flesh peddling. It's a tale of beautiful women empowered and subjugated, of vast sums of money, of sex and drugs, obsession, and tragic death. At its heart is the most unholy combination in commerce: beautiful, young women and rich, lascivious men. Investigative journalist M Model is the definitive story of the international modeling business -- and its evil twin: legalized flesh peddling. It's a tale of beautiful women empowered and subjugated, of vast sums of money, of sex and drugs, obsession, and tragic death. At its heart is the most unholy combination in commerce: beautiful, young women and rich, lascivious men. Investigative journalist Michael Gross has interviewed modeling's pioneers, survivors, and hangers-on, telling the story of the greats: Lisa Fonssagrives; Anita Colby; Candy Jones; Dorian Leigh and her sister Suzy Parker; Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy; Veruschka and Lauren Hutton; Janice Dickinson and Patti Hansen; and the supermodel Trinity: Christy, Naomi, and Linda. Taking us into the private studios and hidden villas where models play and are preyed upon, Gross tears down modeling's carefully constructed facade to reveal untold truths of the ugly trade in pretty women.


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Model is the definitive story of the international modeling business -- and its evil twin: legalized flesh peddling. It's a tale of beautiful women empowered and subjugated, of vast sums of money, of sex and drugs, obsession, and tragic death. At its heart is the most unholy combination in commerce: beautiful, young women and rich, lascivious men. Investigative journalist M Model is the definitive story of the international modeling business -- and its evil twin: legalized flesh peddling. It's a tale of beautiful women empowered and subjugated, of vast sums of money, of sex and drugs, obsession, and tragic death. At its heart is the most unholy combination in commerce: beautiful, young women and rich, lascivious men. Investigative journalist Michael Gross has interviewed modeling's pioneers, survivors, and hangers-on, telling the story of the greats: Lisa Fonssagrives; Anita Colby; Candy Jones; Dorian Leigh and her sister Suzy Parker; Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy; Veruschka and Lauren Hutton; Janice Dickinson and Patti Hansen; and the supermodel Trinity: Christy, Naomi, and Linda. Taking us into the private studios and hidden villas where models play and are preyed upon, Gross tears down modeling's carefully constructed facade to reveal untold truths of the ugly trade in pretty women.

30 review for Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bren fall in love with the sea.

    The music pounds, the champagne flows. There is brimstone in the air along with poison and obsession and vendetta.it is the smell of a factory that feeds on young girls. Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women: by Michael Gross Positives: I liked the Author's writing. The dark side of t he fashion industry was absolutely captured. I feel the writer is quite talented. The negatives? What I thought I'd like best was what I wound up liking least. I had been looking forward to reading about some of The music pounds, the champagne flows. There is brimstone in the air along with poison and obsession and vendetta.it is the smell of a factory that feeds on young girls. Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women: by Michael Gross Positives: I liked the Author's writing. The dark side of t he fashion industry was absolutely captured. I feel the writer is quite talented. The negatives? What I thought I'd like best was what I wound up liking least. I had been looking forward to reading about some of the models. But aspects were way to gossipy and focused so greatly on their love lives. I guess I should have expected it..the book is about Fashion..and Models after all! But I really wanted to know more about the women themselves, the different personality aspects that made them who they are. I came at it from a more psychological perspective . This book wasn't BAD or anything but it wasn't as powerful as I'd have liked and honestly? After awhile , the models started to blur into each other and I got bored. I had not imagined myself being bored with a book on an industry like this but there you go. It happened.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Marcia

    I really liked this book, which focuses on the history of modeling, from the 1920s or so up until the mid-1990s. The title and the back copy both make it seem like it's merely a collection of gossip and dirt, and while there's dirt a plenty, it's actually pretty serious. There are a LOT of names to keep track of, and I do think that in order to enjoy this book you need to have not only an appreciation for fashion but also some prior knowledge of prominent fashion photographers and models of the I really liked this book, which focuses on the history of modeling, from the 1920s or so up until the mid-1990s. The title and the back copy both make it seem like it's merely a collection of gossip and dirt, and while there's dirt a plenty, it's actually pretty serious. There are a LOT of names to keep track of, and I do think that in order to enjoy this book you need to have not only an appreciation for fashion but also some prior knowledge of prominent fashion photographers and models of the 20th century. My Pinterest is like 90% vintage fashion and fashion photography so I'm probably an ideal audience. The first two-thirds of the book, which focus on the history of models and the industry up until the 1970s or so, were fascinating. The last third was a different story, because a lot of the focus left the models & photographers and instead focused on the agencies as the so-called "Modeling Wars" of the 1980s started. I have NO head for business, so the internecine conflicts within and between different agencies left me cold. The tragic lives of many models, and the abuses perpetrated on naive young girls, are heartbreaking. It's a difficult book because it leaves you thinking, by enjoying these pictures and buying fashion magazines, am I perpetuating an abusive cycle? With art, there is always a question of, if the artist is a bad person, does that make the art bad? The addition of vulnerable human beings as the center of that art makes the question even more difficult in regards to fashion & fashion photography. Anyway, if you have an interest in fashion and/or fashion photography, you'll probably enjoy this book. I give it four stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alshia Moyez

    The book was amzingly researched and look how low the ratings are. I believe this book was unintentionally written for a limited audience. I think the author is really into fashion and is pre-occupied with models but he forgot that most people aren't. If you're in the fashion biz you'll know most, if not all the names mentioned in this book. If not, they'll be too many names for you to keep track of. I think this 3 star rating this book has earned overall has been unearned and given by people ou The book was amzingly researched and look how low the ratings are. I believe this book was unintentionally written for a limited audience. I think the author is really into fashion and is pre-occupied with models but he forgot that most people aren't. If you're in the fashion biz you'll know most, if not all the names mentioned in this book. If not, they'll be too many names for you to keep track of. I think this 3 star rating this book has earned overall has been unearned and given by people outside the focus and sphere of the book's intended audience. I give it 5 stars to try to counter-balance their low ratings.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    Great reference, including interviews with key people in the business. Very useful, one of few books on the history of the modelling profession. Remember looking at a brand new copy of the book in New York, just after it was published. Wanted it, deemed it too unserious (fashion, I was a literature major and a different breed of snob at the time), left it behind. Have been pining for the book ever since! Finally bought a hardback copy on Am. Ebay - condition like new - although not signed by Mic Great reference, including interviews with key people in the business. Very useful, one of few books on the history of the modelling profession. Remember looking at a brand new copy of the book in New York, just after it was published. Wanted it, deemed it too unserious (fashion, I was a literature major and a different breed of snob at the time), left it behind. Have been pining for the book ever since! Finally bought a hardback copy on Am. Ebay - condition like new - although not signed by Michael Gross like the first one. Very useful as reference when writing my master thesis. Goes to show - my instincts are way ahead of my intellect. I now have a master degree in Fashion Studies.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brent

    Michael Gross did an impressive amount of research and numerous interviews for this book, and it shows through in an engaging treatment of the history and personalities of the industry. It gets dense and hard to follow at times.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Doğa Armangil

    This book tells the story of the modeling agency business from its inception to the present day, with a focus on the US and Europe. Interesting fact: I was surprised to learn that the very first modeling agency was created in the US, and not in France or Italy. The book tells about how Eileen Ford, the founder of the Ford agency, besides providing modeling jobs to her models, also wanted to act as a matchmaker between models and suitable parties, who were often rich middle-aged men. As it turns out This book tells the story of the modeling agency business from its inception to the present day, with a focus on the US and Europe. Interesting fact: I was surprised to learn that the very first modeling agency was created in the US, and not in France or Italy. The book tells about how Eileen Ford, the founder of the Ford agency, besides providing modeling jobs to her models, also wanted to act as a matchmaker between models and suitable parties, who were often rich middle-aged men. As it turns out, people working in the modeling industry, be it photographers, agents or scouts had other ideas. Why act as middlemen when they could be themselves the suitable parties, even if they were not so much. The book singles out the European fashion scene, and in particular Italy and France. The Elite agency deserves a special, unfortunately negative, mention here. As a result, for many girls modeling became a trap that prevented them from building their private lives, instead of being a source of better opportunities in terms of suitable parties. In reading this book, one gets a sense of an industry where backstabbing, predatory behavior and financial tinkering are rampant. Is this rhetoric veering on the sensationalist side? One must be an insider to answer this question. Illuminating.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Suzie Quint

    The first 25% of the book was interesting, but then it started reading like a tabloid about all the sex, drugs, and scandal. It might have been more interesting if I cared about about or even knew who more of these people were. It does deliver a good history of the fashion industry up through the 90s, but of course, it's not up to date. The first 25% of the book was interesting, but then it started reading like a tabloid about all the sex, drugs, and scandal. It might have been more interesting if I cared about about or even knew who more of these people were. It does deliver a good history of the fashion industry up through the 90s, but of course, it's not up to date.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emily Jones

    Loves my models! This book was pretty informative to me as far as the early models & how they got their start. Sometimes it was hard to keep everything straight, but overall a good read if you are into all this nonsense. Which I am!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Summer

    Everyone knows that the modeling industry is full of drugs, eating disorders, casting couches, and other dangerous behavior, but it's interesting to see it from behind the scenes. Everyone knows that the modeling industry is full of drugs, eating disorders, casting couches, and other dangerous behavior, but it's interesting to see it from behind the scenes.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Henry

    - For the greater period of early Modeling industry history, the industry wasn't standardized. The pay was poor and sexualization of the industry was rampant (and still is) - However, star-scouts are in their best behavior when they spot someone who has a million dollar look - they don't want her to disappear. Whereas many of the model who they know wouldn't make it anyways are trashed over - All models smoke - Difference between Models and Supermodels: the former simply don't manage their brands. - For the greater period of early Modeling industry history, the industry wasn't standardized. The pay was poor and sexualization of the industry was rampant (and still is) - However, star-scouts are in their best behavior when they spot someone who has a million dollar look - they don't want her to disappear. Whereas many of the model who they know wouldn't make it anyways are trashed over - All models smoke - Difference between Models and Supermodels: the former simply don't manage their brands. Supermodels manage their image religiously (to them, modeling is a career, not something to solve their insecurities) - Cindy Crawford was successful because she was smart and she was unashamed to use her intelligence to manage her career in the modeling world - Many models who don't know better cave into the fantasy world of drugs, sex and alcohol

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vesna Filipovic

    It is really well researched. You may find many interesting information about fashion industry, photographers, models... I enjoyed reading about Richard Avedon, Dorian Leigh, Suzy Parker, Veruschka, French photographers, London's trio etc. I think it can be difficult to follow the story for the people that don't work in fashion or don't know fashion industry. I read one review of this book that Michael Gross will hardly drink coffee in the fashion circles again. Agree! It is a bit gossipy and do It is really well researched. You may find many interesting information about fashion industry, photographers, models... I enjoyed reading about Richard Avedon, Dorian Leigh, Suzy Parker, Veruschka, French photographers, London's trio etc. I think it can be difficult to follow the story for the people that don't work in fashion or don't know fashion industry. I read one review of this book that Michael Gross will hardly drink coffee in the fashion circles again. Agree! It is a bit gossipy and doesn't celebrate fashion at all. It got a lot of dirt, but again that makes it provocative and controversial.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Adam Foster

    It is mixed to say the least. The first person chapters are pretty good, as is the earlier part of the book, but it soon devolves into a alphabet soup of agencies, with constant digressions and timelines that are scrambles. Despite impressive research, there is little evidence of a coherant theme.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Devan Hambrock

    super repetitive but I loved the 90s supermodel chapters

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kim Genser

    Excellent background on the many personalities involved in the modeling business. Fascinating and also sad.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Exhaustingly detailed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    UGH! What a horrible book. Long, dull, name-dropping names you don’t care about. And, the overall story – highly disappointing. The “ugly business” – not really much of a surprise. And, I’m not sure that that’s because the book was published 15 years ago. So what do you learn in this book? Photographers have sex with the models – so does anyone else who has any sort of influence in the industry (ie, can get the model work.) They use a lot of drugs. The agencies fight with each other to get models UGH! What a horrible book. Long, dull, name-dropping names you don’t care about. And, the overall story – highly disappointing. The “ugly business” – not really much of a surprise. And, I’m not sure that that’s because the book was published 15 years ago. So what do you learn in this book? Photographers have sex with the models – so does anyone else who has any sort of influence in the industry (ie, can get the model work.) They use a lot of drugs. The agencies fight with each other to get models to work for them and get the publishers to pick their models. Not sure what’s so shocking or surprising about any of that. There are a few bright spots – the story of Lauren Hutton is pretty much written by her with little editing by the author – a great and entertaining story. There are a few other spots like that – Cindy Crawford’s story is another I can think of – no where near enough to make reading the entire tome worthwhile. There is an interesting mention of Roman Polanski being at a hotel room in Paris with Jack Nicholson in a room full of 14-15 year old girls. It’s not explicitly stated, but it’s strongly implied that the girls were there for sex. (Seriously – I hope Roman Polanski’s children never meet someone like him when they are not in a position of power.) The bright spot in the book? There’s a good index. Use it to find the Lauren Hutton and Cindy Crawford stories so you can read just them. Otherwise, this book is an insult to the trees sacrificed to publish it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    The fun parts are the discovery stories of all these posing beauties; also a little bit about how modeling agencies started. John Robert Powers was an out-of-work actor who found himself running a clearing house for movie extras. He suddenly thought, "Hey, there are commercial photographers out there looking for models. And I know dozens of out-of-work actors and actresses. Why not bring them together?" The book also details the wars between modeling agencies, stealing one another's girls. In fac The fun parts are the discovery stories of all these posing beauties; also a little bit about how modeling agencies started. John Robert Powers was an out-of-work actor who found himself running a clearing house for movie extras. He suddenly thought, "Hey, there are commercial photographers out there looking for models. And I know dozens of out-of-work actors and actresses. Why not bring them together?" The book also details the wars between modeling agencies, stealing one another's girls. In fact, too much detail. Sometimes I get the feel that every paragraph equals an author's note card (must have been 3200 miles of note cards, laid end to end) and he tells me about agents, photographers, editors, names names names of people I never knew or needed to know. But I stuck with it. In the '70s, everybody in the business snorted coke while they worked, although I notice that many of the real supermodels stayed away from the drugs, which seemed to contribute to the longevity of their careers. At any rate, a great deal of mischief goes on, but doesn't count as cow patties, because it is rendered such a reporter-like tone. And as the book progresses through the years, the pay rates keep going up, from $5/hr in the '30s to $25,000/day in the mid-'90s. Even though I'm taken with the tarnished glamour of it all, I think one retired agent summed it up best when she said (and I paraphrase) We put these magazine pictures before the public and say, You will never look like this, but please try.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Molly Black

    If you're interested in the history of how modeling got started and why models can make so much money just based on their looks, this book is a decent place to start. I was surprised to see so little about Gia, comparative to what another reviewer wrote. Especially since she was not only one of the first "supermodels" - but also because of the industry's reliance on drugs, she also became one of the first female ARC deaths. So this book is interesting but I'm also surprised it didn't go into the If you're interested in the history of how modeling got started and why models can make so much money just based on their looks, this book is a decent place to start. I was surprised to see so little about Gia, comparative to what another reviewer wrote. Especially since she was not only one of the first "supermodels" - but also because of the industry's reliance on drugs, she also became one of the first female ARC deaths. So this book is interesting but I'm also surprised it didn't go into the pedoephilia that seems to drive a lot of the industry, while still mentioning it, it does seem the author could have dug a lot deeper on these very serious issues. Especially since so many young girls are exposed to modeling as a career they would literally do anything to not only break into, but also succeed at. And this book has two supermodels that were each bedded by the same older man who not only said he would make them stars, but did so. Which will make it something that young girls will think they have to do if they read this book. More indepth research and straightforward discussion would have helped balance the story, as it were.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Marie

    I really like this book, I'm not sure why this book is so lowly rated. I wonder if people somehow believe the Model business and life is such an idyllic thing but as with anything there can be a very ugly side to it. And don't forget women were once thought of as just pretty faces, to be done with as men thought was okay. This book gives a really good overview of how things were at the beginning of the Model business and how things evolved. Eileen Ford and her Husband were either loved or hated, I really like this book, I'm not sure why this book is so lowly rated. I wonder if people somehow believe the Model business and life is such an idyllic thing but as with anything there can be a very ugly side to it. And don't forget women were once thought of as just pretty faces, to be done with as men thought was okay. This book gives a really good overview of how things were at the beginning of the Model business and how things evolved. Eileen Ford and her Husband were either loved or hated, it's so interesting reading all the varying views of them. John Casablancas, who I only knew of because of "modelling schools", is quite an interesting character/person on the early modelling scene. The iconic photographers got their start somewhere and this book gives a good background to much of their start and how they made it to be so well-loved (or not). So many of the models mentioned in this book were all the rage when I was a small child first discovering magazines and then going into all the super models of the 1990s / the famous models featured in George Michael's Freedom video.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    This is only somewhat a book about models, so the title ("Model") is a bit misplaced. Instead, this is a book about the rise of the modelling *business*, with the major stars of the piece being model agencies, around which a constellation of supporting characters--photographers, designers, models, even makeup artists--swirl. The book speaks to the expected scandals, but it also discusses very interesting themes for the postwar economy: women in the workforce; consumer representation of women; ev This is only somewhat a book about models, so the title ("Model") is a bit misplaced. Instead, this is a book about the rise of the modelling *business*, with the major stars of the piece being model agencies, around which a constellation of supporting characters--photographers, designers, models, even makeup artists--swirl. The book speaks to the expected scandals, but it also discusses very interesting themes for the postwar economy: women in the workforce; consumer representation of women; even attitudes toward race and sexuality.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I love how the description for this book actually uses the oxymoron "In-depth interviews with models.." As if. Cheesy and exploitative, un-shocking and kind of dull. Models are too skinny, whore around at an early age, and are dumb. This isn't news. Some of it is disturbing. Where the heck was Stephanie Seymour's mom during all this? Stephanie did eventually end up with Axl Rose, so what does that tell you? I love how the description for this book actually uses the oxymoron "In-depth interviews with models.." As if. Cheesy and exploitative, un-shocking and kind of dull. Models are too skinny, whore around at an early age, and are dumb. This isn't news. Some of it is disturbing. Where the heck was Stephanie Seymour's mom during all this? Stephanie did eventually end up with Axl Rose, so what does that tell you?

  22. 4 out of 5

    Asif

    Interesting in bits and pieces but more about the owners of the large modelling agencies and their wheeling and dealing than about the models themselves. Contains some revelations that are hardly revelatory -- that modelling agencies and especially their rich, white, male owners, sleep with many models many as young as 16. That the modelling industry involves selling your body to some degree is hardly news.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Annie Kookie

    An interesting insight into the modeling world. While a lot of information is laid upon you, it is often vague and the intrigue lost. There are moments of clarity when you really toss your head aside in thoughts unbeguiling, but really when you get into the world of the arts, and the concpet of that world, it seems haf it isn't all that same as the next - as unbecoming as it may seem... An interesting insight into the modeling world. While a lot of information is laid upon you, it is often vague and the intrigue lost. There are moments of clarity when you really toss your head aside in thoughts unbeguiling, but really when you get into the world of the arts, and the concpet of that world, it seems haf it isn't all that same as the next - as unbecoming as it may seem...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Biscuits

    Saw this book cited after the whole Kate Moss cocaine incident. The author said models live off the 3 C's: Cocaine, Coffee and Cigarettes. Found the early days of modeling confusing and hard to follow, but interesting none the less. Saw this book cited after the whole Kate Moss cocaine incident. The author said models live off the 3 C's: Cocaine, Coffee and Cigarettes. Found the early days of modeling confusing and hard to follow, but interesting none the less.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    The author is exhaustive in his research and detail which made the book a bit plodding at times and kind of boring. I would have liked more about the models themselves and less about the agencies and their owners.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rosalind M

    3.75 stars. A daunting amount of background research went into this history. It attempts to cover so much that it becomes weighted down with the seediness of the bookers and agents and the tactics employed by the agencies in bagging and retaining successful clients.

  27. 4 out of 5

    jasmine

    stupid book, but what else would you expect?....

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    I had to return this before I could finish it -- it's incredibly dense and I wasn't up to the challenge. I hope to pick it up again some other time, because I barely got to the 1930s. I had to return this before I could finish it -- it's incredibly dense and I wasn't up to the challenge. I hope to pick it up again some other time, because I barely got to the 1930s.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    Somewhat interesting, but all in all, models and the modeling industry are kind of boring.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alexa

    i enjoyed this one too! once again....so much scandal, drugs, and crazy parties!

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