Saturday, October 01, 2005

Cocaine catwalk

The Electric New Paper

As supermodel Kate Moss checks into rehab, insiders reveal that models resort to drugs to remain thin

THE furore over pictures allegedly showing Kate Moss snorting cocaine is already last week's news in fashion circles.

What industry insiders are gushing about now is just how widespread cocaine use really is behind the velvet drapes of the world's most elite catwalks and studios.

For decades, it was the elephant in the room that insiders were too cool to draw attention to.

But now, it seems, tut-tutting about drug use in fashion circles is the new black.

'Every insider already knows cocaine fuels the international fashion industry at every level, from glamorous catwalk to exotic photo shoot,' reported The Independent newspaper this week.

It quoted one fashion insider as saying: 'Of course models take cocaine. So do designers. And hairdressers, particularly. It is there at fashion shows, but it is quite covert. If you're looking for a blizzard of cocaine, go on a (photo) shoot. That's when it really happens.'

Another was quoted as saying: 'Backstage, at a shoot, just waiting around, people use coke like others drink coffee.'

Donald MacIntyre, a reporter who went undercover to write a tell-all book on drug use in the fashion industry, told the paper: 'I talked to lots of models who were relying on cocaine simply to keep the weight off. It is a brutal, brutal trade.'

Model agent Jonathan Phang, a judge on the reality series Britain's Next Top Model, told the paper that it was hard for models 'spotted' in their teens to know whom to trust.

'There are some horrible people willing to stoop to any level to exploit beautiful young women. The wrong people use and abuse women, and they introduce drugs as a means of control,' he said.

Top British model Lucy Clarkson told The People magazine: 'There are hundreds more girls like Kate Moss. I've seen the terrible truth for myself.'

The 23-year-old has modelled for British designers Vivienne Westwood, Jasper Conran and Alexander McQueen.

She claims she regularly witnesses orgies at the backstage parties that follow catwalk shows like those at the London Fashion Week last week.

'Girls would be so off their faces on cocaine and champagne on an empty stomach that by the time it came to the after-parties, they would do anything for more drugs,' she told the magazine.

'They would start snogging each other because they knew that would get the men going and score them even more drugs.

'The main reason they all do coke is to stay thin - I even tried it once but I hated it. It's literally thrust upon you wherever you go.'

COCAINE ON A SILVER PLATTER

Clarkson says she succumbed instead to the eating disorder bulimia - which ironically lead to her getting more work.

'At a fashion show, there is a clothes rail with your picture on it full of the outfits you will be wearing. If any of them doesn't fit you then you are literally sent home. The humiliation is so great that girls will do anything to make sure they can get into the clothes,' she said.

Clarkson claims she even saw the drug being handed around on silver platters at a previous year's London Fashion Week event.

'I walked into the dressing room and there were three girls huddled over a silver tray covered with cocaine. They were so hammered the stylists could barely work with them and they were sent home.

'Another time I was modelling at a top London department store. There was a curtain at the back where some of the clothes were being kept and that was where everyone went to do their drugs.'

'People think modelling is glamorous but it's not - it can destroy your life,' she said.

High-profile British underwear model Sophie Anderton told the Independent that drugs were 'so accessible within the industry it is very difficult to steer completely clear of them'.

She kicked her own cocaine habit a year ago after breaking up with footballer Mark Bosnich, who was arrested in 2003 for allegedly beating her in a drug-fuelled rage.

The enormous pressures to stay thin in the industry force many models to take a substance well known for suppressing appetite, she added.

At the height of her addiction, she weighed just 41kg.

Designer Donatella Versace announced earlier this year that she had given up cocaine after 18 years of abuse.

'In the beginning I had a great time - I didn't feel I was addicted. Unfortunately, it didn't continue like that,' she said.

Original supermodel Naomi Campbell recently admitted that it was cocaine use that fuelled her infamous violent outbursts.

'What is very scary is that you start to feel too confident and you start to feel indispensable,' she said.

HEROIN CHIC

Another top British model, Tamara Czartoryski, told The Mail On Sunday newspaper: 'One model agency I was with had a booker who was giving coke to the models every day. She offered it to all the girls and most of them took it. Cocaine suppresses your appetite and boosts your confidence. I felt I needed it to get through the jobs I was doing.'

Czartoryski said she had since kicked the habit and signed up with an agency with a strict no-drugs policy.

Fashion has long flirted with drug imagery - Moss shot to fame as a 14-year-old in the mid-'90s as the icon of heroin chic, a fashion style that replaced Amazonian supermodels on the catwalk with emaciated waifs.

She has modelled for a Dior perfume called Addict, a Yves Saint Laurent scent called Opium and for Calvin Klein, which produced a fragrance called Crave.

In 1998, designer Andrew Groves even staged a fashion show called Cocaine Nights that featured a dress made of razor blades and a catwalk strewn with white powder.

One insider told the Independent that given this, it was unfair to single out Moss for condemnation.

'The newspapers keep saying cocaine is a fashion industry problem but the truth is that it permeates all professions and all classes,' a former women's magazine editor told the paper.

SCAPEGOAT

Added Moss's friend, modern artist Tracey Emin: 'If a supermodel dabbles in some recreational drugs, it isn't going to change the world. If airline pilots and doctors are doing it we might have a problem. They should stop picking on Kate.'

While not admitting to drug use, Moss issued a public apology after The Mirror newspaper featured grainy handphone pictures that allegedly showed her taking cocaine last week, and on Thursday checked into a US rehabilitation centre.

'I take full responsibility for my actions,' she said in a statement.

'I also accept that there are various personal issues that I need to address and have started taking the difficult, yet necessary, steps to resolve them.'

Moss entered her second stint in rehab - she checked into a similar clinic in 1998 for 'exhaustion' - on her daughter Lila's 3rd birthday. The toddler is being cared for by Moss's former partner Jefferson Hack.

Fashion's victims

# NAOMI CAMPBELL:
Admitted earlier this year that rumours of her violent outbursts were true and had been fuelled by her heavy cocaine use in the '90s.

# JANICE DICKINSON:
Still touting herself as the world's first supermodel, she took the fashion world by storm in the '70s and was briefly Mrs Sylvester Stallone. Revealed in a memoir that she fell from favour because of her twin addictions to cocaine and alcohol. Now a judge on America's Top Model and an advocate of plastic surgery.

# DONATELLA VERSACE:
The designer announced earlier this year that she had kicked the cocaine habit after 18 years.

# SOPHIE ANDERTON:
Shot to fame as the model in a high-profile British lingerie campaign before making more headlines for admitting to cocaine addiction and for the domestic abuse allegations she made against star footballer boyfriend Mark Bosnich. She's now recovered.

# GIA CARANGI: Graced the covers of the world's top fashion magazines in the '70s but was blacklisted in the '80s because of obvious track marks on her arms from heroin use. Descended into prostitution and because the first American woman to die from Aids in 1986. She was 26.

# KATE MOSS: Pictures of her allegedly snorting cocaine splashed across the Daily Mirror newspaper last week. She apologised without admitting guilt and checked into rehab, while top brands deserted her in droves.

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