Model: the Ugly Business of Beautiful Women

“The young models, seated at almost every table, whose names are yet unknown. They don’t speak the language. They don’t know the ropes…They know nothing about the history of the business or the relentless march of ravaged casualties who preceded them…they look wide eyed at one another, wondering if they’ll be the next big thing, swilling Cristal champagne with a rock star boyfriend…They dance with the silver haired men, wondering which one, if any, will give them their big break. They see the menu but not the agenda. The music pounds, the champagne flows. There is brimstone in the air along with Poisen and Obsession and Vendetta. It is the smell of a factory that feeds on young girls.”
So begins Michael Gross’s brilliant, well researched and fascinating expose on the international modeling business. Where models are little more that a commodity – like pork bellies – to be used, traded and screwed both literally and figuratively. Model is a cautionary tale of beautiful women empowered and subjugated; of vast sums of money; of sex and drugs; obsession and tragic death; and of the most unholy combination in commerce: stunning young women and rich lascivious men.
Originally published in 1995 and updated again in 2000, the book has now been re-released with a new afterword covering the changes that have occurred in the industry during the past ten years. Michael observes:
The more things change, the more they remain the same. Today’s models are much better behaved than the ‘Supes’ were, says one agency owner ‘nobody will say she wouldn’t get out of bed for less than ten thousand dollars today’…Yet hope springs eternal in the muck. ‘There still is a mafia’ says Barbara Pilling, a model who owns her own boutique agency, Edge…’There are still scuzzy agents and playboys and money made from illicit means. But very slowly, the glamour will come  back. The desire is still there.’

We highly recommend this book. It is “THE” definitive work — an essential read for anyone interested in the unholy relationship between modeling agencies and the beautiful young women who are fashion’s “boots on the ground”.

-Ernest Schmatolla

Click here to order the book from

Bernadine Morris reviews Michael Gross’s book: Genuine Authentic – The Real Life of Ralph Lauren



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

  1. Fashion is always a very interesting and colorful world. I know of peers who have come from a different area of design and have moved into the world of fashion, and what they liked is that the fashion world always brings them to their toes. Some of them have brought their designs online and are enjoying the mileage of popularity by driving traffic to their fashion ecommerce website coming from social media.

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