When I become interested in a topic, I really become interested in a topic and since I begun reading this book, I have compiled a whole store of knowledge about Gia Carangi.
Born This Way: Friends, Colleagues, and Coworkers Recall Gia Carangi, the Supermodel Who Defined an Era by Sacha Lanvin Baumann focuses on Gia Carangi, who is often referred to as the “world’s first supermodel”. Having quickly shot on the scene back in 1978, she almost as quickly went into decline due to heroin addiction and died in 1986 at the sorrowful age of 26. This is the timeframe the book delves into.
I knew nothing about Gia Carangi before receiving a copy of this book from the author. That is my favourite way to jump into a biography, with a completely open mind and a clear slate. However, biographies are not my favourite type of book and I was wary about how much I would enjoy it. By the end, I was completely enthralled. I can safely say this is one of the first biographies to have fully captivated me.
Gia’s short life was extremely interesting and I am sure that, no matter who the author was, I would have been sucked in by her story. Nevertheless, there was something about how Sacha Lanvin Baumann wrote the story that really resonated with me. The narrative of the book is mostly made up of direct quotes from some of Carangi’s former friends and co-workers. Because of this, I was truly able to feel the grief they felt at losing someone so special, but also the joy and excitement she also brought to their lives. In my opinion, it also showed how many fake people surrounded Gia as some of the stories recalled just sounded fake to me (not made up by the author, just insincerity from the interviewees). However, this style also had one negative aspect about it: it felt that many of the memories recalled we repetitive and at times I found myself slightly skimming through the book. But I guess that just shows how she was herself with absolutely everyone. If anybody was fake in the fashion industry, it certainly wasn’t Gia.
I already mentioned that this book only recalls the years 1978 to 1986. However, I would not say these years were told chronologically. The stories sometimes felt a bit mish-mashed between when Gia was at the top of her game and when she was starting her decline. This did not necessarily bring anything negative to the book, but I did find it hard to really visualise her fall. Yet, the stories were told in a great way; such a great way that I am yearning to get my hands on more information about Gia.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the fashion industry, and certainly to anyone who has never heard of Gia Carangi. It tells the story of a star whose light burned out too fast, while it also presents a cultural look into the industry during the late 70s/early 80s.
For those of you who have read this book or are interested in Gia, I urge you to leave a comment below – I am dying to have a discussion with someone. Until then, I am off to source the film of her life!