From Sopranopedia - The Sopranos EncyclopediaTemplate:Quotefarm
|Birth name||Gia Marie Carangi|
|Date of birth||January 29, 1960|
|Place of birth||Philadelphia|
|Date of death||November 18, 1986|
|Place of death||Template:Country data US Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|Height||5'7" (171 cm)|
|Measurements|| (US) 34-24-35|
|Dress size|| (US) 6|
|Shoe size|| (US) 8 |
Gia Marie Carangi (b. January 29, 1960, Philadelphia, PA – d. November 18, 1986, Philadelphia, PA) was a fashion model during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Carangi, who was of Italian, Welsh and Irish ancestry, was widely considered the first "Supermodel". Cindy Crawford, who also appeared on the covers of several fashion publications during Gia's time, was later referred to as "Baby Gia", due to her resemblance to Gia. Besides Gia's appearance, which at the time of her entrance into the modeling world was a departure from the norm, Gia was also the first to present unusual poses, facial expressions and gestures. She is credited by many at the upper echelons of fashion to have created a new style of modeling, emulated by models since then to the present.
Carangi was featured on the cover of many fashion magazines, including Vogue, April 1 1979; Vogue Paris, April 1979; American Vogue, August 1980; Vogue Paris, August 1980; Italian Vogue, January 1981; and several issues of Cosmopolitan between 1979 and 1982.
After becoming addicted to drugs, Carangi's modeling career rapidly declined. She later became infected with HIV and died in Philadelphia. Her death was not widely publicized and few people in the fashion industry knew of it. Carangi is thought to be one of the first famous women to die of AIDS.
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Gia, who was known in modeling circles just by her first name, moved from Philadelphia to New York City at the age of 17, and quickly rose to prominence. Carangi was the favorite model of many eminent fashion photographers, including Francesco Scavullo, Arthur Elgort, Richard Avedon, and Chris von Wangenheim, and she posed for photos in many countries. Her sexual orientation has been disputed: while some think she was completely lesbian, others point to the fact she had many relationships with men and call her bisexual. By the end of 1978, at age eighteen, Carangi had already rocked the fashion world. However, she was extremely lonely and still looking for stability and love in her life.
In October 1978, Carangi did her first major shoot with top fashion photographer Chris von Wangenheim. Wangenheim had her pose nude behind a chain-link fence with makeup assistant Sandy Linter. Gia immediately became infatuated with Linter and started to pursue her, though the relationship never became stable.
On March 1 1980, Carangi's agent, Wilhelmina Cooper, died of lung cancer. Devastated, Carangi quickly turned to drugs to escape the harsh reality. Scavullo recalled a fashion shoot in the Caribbean when "She was crying, she couldn't find her drugs. I literally had to lay her down on her bed until she fell asleep."
By 1980, Carangi began having violent temper tantrums, walking out of photo shoots, and even falling asleep in front of the camera. In the November 1980 issue of Vogue, Carangi's track marks from heroin can be easily seen. For three weeks, she was signed with Eileen Ford, who soon dropped her because she had little tolerance for the young model's behavior.
In 1981, Carangi enrolled in a 21-day detox program, and started dating a college student, Elyssa Golden. The Carangi family, along with Gia's mother, had suspected that Golden had a drug problem. With Golden by her side, Carangi's recovery failed. In 1981, she moved out of her mother's house and in with some friends, once again entering a detox program.
Her attempt to quit drugs was shattered when news that good friend and fashion photographer Chris von Wangenheim had died in a car accident. It is said that Carangi locked herself in a bathroom for hours, shooting heroin. In the fall of 1981, she looked far different from the top model she once had been. However, she was still determined to make a comeback in the fashion industry. She contacted Monique Pillard (who was largely responsible for Janice Dickinson's career), who was hesitant to sign her. “She was sitting in my chair and I said, ‘Gia, I want to represent you so badly and everything, but I hear a lot of negative stories about you.’ And I remember I asked her ‘well, why are you wearing such a long shirt? Can I see your arms?’ And she said ‘No!’ And she held on to her shirt and she said to me, ‘Do you want to represent me or not?’” (Monique Pillard for Gia's E! True Hollywood Story).
For her second time, Carangi received the harsh treatment she skipped last time. Nobody would book her. Desperate, she turned to her good friend Scavullo. She landed a Cosmopolitan cover, a gift from Scavullo. At that time, however, he also knew that the days of her modeling career were numbered. “It made me very sad, I had a tough time that day because I really wanted it to be her best cover and it wasn’t; it just couldn’t be. No matter how hard I tried it just couldn’t happen. That wonderful spirit she had was gone,” says Scavullo. Many believe that Carangi's arms were placed behind her back because of all the track marks, but Scavullo has denied the rumors. Shot in the winter of 1982, it would be her last cover.
In West Germany, a budding fashion industry was being created. Although seen as tacky by the designers from New York, Paris and Milan, the Germans were willing to pay $10,000 marks a week to shoot Carangi abroad. However, no one in the States would book her. In the spring of 1983, she was caught with drugs in a shoot in Africa. Her career was over.
After pressure from her family she entered a drug-rehabilitation program again at Eagleville Hospital. After six months, she was released from the program and moved back to Philadelphia, where she seemed to be getting her life back on track. She started taking classes in photography and cinematography. But, three months later, she had vanished once again, and had returned to Atlantic City, and started shooting heroin again. She slept with men for money and was raped on several occasions. She soon became sick with pneumonia, and her mother came and checked her into a hospital in Norristown, Pennyslvania.
Gia was diagnosed with AIDS, then a newly recognized disease. As her condition worsened, she was transferred to Philadelphia's Hahnemann University Hospital. Her mother stayed with her day and night, allowing virtually no visitors. By this time, AIDS had taken a toll on her once beautiful face. "She wanted to get the hell out of there, but I kept having to tell her, that even if we made it as far as the elevator, she would be dead," her mother recalled. "And that's when I knew. I knew she'd never be able to come home."
Her funeral was held on November 21 at a small funeral home in Philadelphia. Some of her old friends from Philadelphia chose not to attend, mostly because of their anger at Gia's mother for not allowing anyone to see her. Nobody from the fashion world attended. However, weeks later, Francesco Scavullo sent a Mass card when he heard the news. "We were hysterically crying in the studio when we heard," he recalled. "I loved her. I could cry now, just talking about her."
A biography by Stephen Fried called "Thing of Beauty" published in 1993. And a biographical film, Gia, which debuted on HBO in 1998. Angelina Jolie starred as Gia Carangi and the movie brought Gia back to the public's attention.
In 1996, actress-screenwriter Zoë Tamerlis (also known as Zoë Lund, Bad Lieutenant), herself a heroin addict who died of drug-related causes in 1999, was commissioned to write a screenplay based upon Carangi's life. This version of Gia was not produced, but after Tamerlis' death, footage of her, photographers, Gia's family, and Sandy Linter discussing Carangi's life was incorporated into a documentary entitled The Self-Destruction of Gia.
You can check out the only interview of Carangi in January 6, 1983, edition of ABC's 20/20 interview from Youtube:
Designers and cosmetic firms she represented
- Body Basics
- Christian Dior
- Diane von Fürstenberg
- Giorgio Armani
- Perry Ellis
- Vidal Sassoon
- Yves Saint Laurent