From sexual harassment to covering up track marks: Supermodels of the Eighties reveal dark side of fashion world in new documentary
The former glamazons of the Seventies and Eighties have given a revealing behind-the-scenes look into the dark side of their supermodel lives in a new documentary.
From drug overdoses, to rampant sexual harassment and blatant racism, the upcoming HBO film About Face: Supermodels, Then and Now, follows era-defining names like Jerry Hall and Paulina Porizkovastill who expose the industry's ugly truths.
Sports Illustrated cover star Ms Porizkova, now 47 recalls: 'What people called sexual
harassment, we called compliments. When a 16-year-old girl is flattered by a man pulling out his penis, that's kind of noteworthy.'
Industry expose: The HBO film About Face: Supermodels, Then and Now, directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (centre left), follows Eighties models like Kim Alexis (left), Beverly Johnson (right), and Carol Alt (far right)
A look back: Models Nancy Donahue and China Machado (left) also feature in About Face: Supermodels Then And Now, with still-stunning model Carmen Dell'Orefice, 81 (right)
Premiering on July 30, About Face also features fashion's big names, like former Vogue fashion director Jade Hobson.
Genuinely ashamed about how the magazine used models who were actively
using drugs, she recounted a shoot with Gia Carangi, a heroin addict who
died of AIDS in the Eighties, where she could see the model’s arms
covered in track marks.
She said: 'We made them into something. We created a monster. We maybe exploited these girls.'
legendary models speak candidly and frankly about their experiences in
the industry, also discussing self-esteem, the worship of youth, and the
reinvention that comes with aging.
Noting models' warped attitudes
towards body image and value in the Seventies and Eighties, standards of which have seamlessly traversed to the industry today, Carol Alt, 51, says an editor told her, 'If you lose 15 pounds, I’ll take you to the collections in Italy.'
The Cover Girl model ate little else
besides celery; and when she returned from the trip, she recalls how her
mother passed by her multiple times in the airport because she no
longer recognised her daughter.
Then and now: Sports Illustrated cover star Paulina Porizkova in 1989 (left); now 47 (right), she pulls no punches in the film, frankly recalling the industry's ugly truths
Ms Porizkova, the Czech model who shot to fame
after gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated in the early Eighties, and went on to
sign a $6 million deal with Este Lauder in 1988, then the
highest-paying modeling contract in the world, also tells stories about
having her physical attributes discussed and dissected in front of her
like she was invisible.
She says beauty in the modelling industry is a double-edged sword: 'When they tell you you’re beautiful they can also say you’re ugly'.
Carol Alt remembers an editor telling her, 'You’re too fat, your hair looks like shit and who does your eyebrows'
The film, while exposing the more
regrettable elements the models faced daily, also gives insight into the
vivacious personalities who have graced hundreds of covers over the
past 40 years.
Jerry Hall, who appeared on more than
40 magazine covers by 1977 alone, amusingly discusses her early job at
Dairy Queen and reveals how she was discovered after deciding to parade
around a beach in France wearing a pink metallic crocheted bikini and
five inch cork platforms – putting her at 6’5″.
She says cheekily: 'I was expecting to be discovered that day. And I was!'
Rock star: Jerry Hall, pictured in 1978, amusingly reveals how she was 'discovered' in the HBO film, while also discussing aging and reinvention in today's cult of youth
Beauty defined: Isabella Rossellini, now 60, daughter of Ingrid Bergman and the face of Lancome for 14 years, makes wry but telling observations about the modelling industry in the film
Directed by renowned photographer and filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, About Face stars a who's who from the top
catwalks of the time, Isabella Rossellini, Jerry Hall, Marisa Berenson,
Carol Alt, Karen Bjornson, Christie Brinkley, Pat Cleveland, Carmen
Dell’Orefice, Bethann Hardison, Beverly Johnson, China Machado, Paulina
Porizkova, and Lisa Taylor, who all add their two pennies to the impressive
came about after Mr Greenfield-Sanders photographed the group of women
for a feature in Vanity Fair.
The women's rich stories – career
moments and personal tales from the vanguard of society's obsession with
youth – were too good an opportunity for the fashion photographer to dismiss.
He told Vanity Fair what he learned while making the film, saying: 'The film has two women who are in their 80s, and in those days, models were really considered hookers. You know, models were not what they are today, where it’s a very privileged profession.'
Poignant moments in the film include Ms Rosellini, 60, and the
face of Lancome for 14 years, making a wry but telling observation that the
modelling taught her it is 'essential not to depend on fathers and
All American: About Face stars a who's who from the top catwalks of the time, including Christie Brinkley, pictured in 1983
Discussing aging, and the worship of
youth, she continued: 'My social status has diminished because I know
I’m not invited to the A-list parties any more. My daughter [model,
Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann, 28] is. What has completely disappeared
from society is the wisdom of the old people. As you grow old, you don’t
count any- more, and that is, I think, the greatest fear about growing
Still-stunning Carmen Dell'Orefice, now 81, lost her life savings to Bernie Madoff, while other models went on to marry rock and sports stars.
The documentary is a candid look into a very different era of fashion and beauty, however its stories continue to resonate today, with many models still facing the very same issues the film parses.
However in this age of pro-ana websites and
designers who make ever-shrinking sample sizes, society looks back on the supermodel era as having a wholesome-looking ideal.
Calvin Klein, who attended the premiere of About Face, told Fashionista: '[The beauty ideal] changes all the time. Fashion is about change. And at the same time things come back in somewhat of a different way.
'It’s about finding women who represent the moment and who can wear the clothes.'
One model who seems to be representing a moment today is Kate Upton.
Carol Alt said: 'I think women want to be represented in all ages, all sizes – so Kate Upton you go girl! I think that it’s time.'