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Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  367 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
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
Paperback, 560 pages
Published February 1st 2003 by Harper Paperbacks (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

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Alshia Moyez
Sep 17, 2011 Alshia Moyez rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great-fun
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 ...more
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
Sep 13, 2008 Brent rated it it was ok
Shelves: research
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.
Jan 08, 2014 Marcia rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Suzie Quint
Apr 21, 2015 Suzie Quint rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research
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.
Emily Jones
Jul 08, 2009 Emily Jones rated it liked it
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!
Sep 24, 2007 Summer rated it really liked it
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.
A.J. A.J.
Sep 19, 2016 A.J. A.J. rated it it was amazing
interesting, i'm going to reread it.
Mar 09, 2015 Kristen rated it liked it
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
Jul 28, 2010 Theresa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my worst enemy
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
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
Lisa Marie
Dec 18, 2015 Lisa Marie rated it it was amazing
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, ...more
Feb 03, 2013 Krista rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Apr 17, 2016 Asif rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
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.

Jul 04, 2009 Lisa rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Aspiring models and their mothers.
Shelves: sex-and-womens
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?

Annie Kookie
Aug 02, 2008 Annie Kookie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: models
Shelves: borrowed
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...
Rosalind M
Jun 15, 2015 Rosalind M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Sep 15, 2013 Beth rated it it was ok
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.
May 08, 2007 Biscuits rated it it was ok
Shelves: bios
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.
Nov 16, 2009 Caroline rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Lots of info about someone named Gia who I's never heard of at the time and not very much about the supermodels of the early nineties
Jul 28, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
honestly, havent finished the book yet. but the insight into the model industry is interesting to the outsiders. but everyone knows models uses drugs!!!
May 28, 2008 Ellen added it
Shelves: want-to-read
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.
Della Scott
Jan 14, 2013 Della Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
May 10, 2016 H.i.b.a. rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of the fashion world, models, fashion photography
Shelves: fashion-nf
Very dry at times, but there are few other books as thorough and informative about fashion models. Covers the history of models up til the 90s (time for an updated edition?).
Melissa Edeburn
Sep 10, 2015 Melissa Edeburn rated it did not like it
I read this based on a talk-radio recommendation. Verdict: different strokes for different folks...
Emily rated it really liked it
Dec 05, 2012
Ava West
Ava West rated it really liked it
Apr 19, 2015
Diannecarla rated it liked it
Aug 09, 2012
Dan Eggleston
Dan Eggleston rated it really liked it
Jan 29, 2016
Gail rated it liked it
Nov 27, 2008
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This book list is a work in progress. Michael Gross is recognized as one of America’s most provocative writers of non-fiction–its “foremost chronicler of the upper-crust,” says His latest book Unreal Estate, to be published November 1, 2011, is a west coast version of his bestseller, 740 Park, this time exposing the most exclusive neighborhoods of Los Angeles–Beverly Hills, Holmby ...more
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