Brown - Light
Brown - Light
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Place of Death
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Cause of Death
AIDS (-related complications)
Has Detailed Data (New)
Profile Bio Text
Gia Marie Carangi (January 29, 1960 – November 18, 1986) was an American fashion model during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Carangi was considered by some to be the first supermodel, although that title has also been given to others, including Janice Dickinson,Dorian Leigh,and Jean Shrimpton.Cindy Crawford, who also appeared on the covers of fashion publications during her time, was later referred to as "Baby Gia" due to her resemblance to Carangi.
Carangi was featured on the cover of 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 she became addicted to heroin, Carangi's modeling career rapidly declined. She later became infected with HIV and died at the age of 26. 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. Gia, a biographical film starring Angelina Jolie, debuted on HBO in 1998.
Carangi was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the third child and only daughter born to Joseph Carangi and Kathleen Adams. Her father is Italian American, and her mother is American of Irish and Welsh ancestry. Her parents had an unstable marriage due to her father's domestic abuse of her mother, which resulted in Kathleen abandoning her family. Those who knew her blamed her "fractured childhood" for the instability and drug-dependence that stilted her adult life. She was described as "needy and manipulative" by relatives who recalled her as spoiled and shy as a child and a "Mommy’s girl" who did not receive the motherly attention that she desired.
In her adolescent years, Carangi found the attention she sought; the attention came from other teenage girls. When she was thirteen, Carangi would send girls flowers and they would develop crushes on her, no matter their sexual orientation.
In high school, Carangi bonded with "the Bowie kids"—a group of obsessive David Bowie fans like herself. They emulated Bowie's "defiantly weird, high-glam" style. Carangi was drawn to Bowie not only due to his fashion preferences but also due to his ambiguous gender play and outspoken bisexuality. A friend of Carangi described her "tomboy persona" and relaxed openness about her sexuality as reminiscent of the character Cay in the 1985 film Desert Hearts.
Carangi and her "bi-try Bowie-mad" friends hung out in Philadelphia’s gay clubs and bars. She was beginning to settle into a lesbian identity, but did not want to take up "the accepted lesbian style"!
Carangi was known in modeling circles just by her first name. After being featured in Philadelphia newspaper ads, Carangi moved to New York City at the age of 17, where she quickly rose to prominence. She was a favorite model of various fashion photographers, including Francesco Scavullo, Arthur Elgort, Richard Avedon, Denis Piel, Marco Glaviano and Chris von Wangenheim.
Well-integrated within the fashion world, Carangi had the selection of several photographers, most notably Scavullo. By the end of 1978, Carangi was already a well-established model. In a 20/20 interview, she said her rise was "awfully" fast: "I started working with well-known people in the industry, very quickly. I didn't build into a model. I just sort of became one."
Carangi was a regular at Studio 54 and the Mudd Club. She usually used cocaine in clubs, but later began to develop a heroin addiction.
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. Carangi 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 started abusing drugs. 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. The November 1980 issue of Vogue stated that Carangi's track marks from shooting heroin were visible even after airbrushing. The photographer disputes this claim. For three weeks, she was signed with Eileen Ford, who soon dropped her.
Carangi's attempt to quit drugs was shattered when she learned that her good friend and fashion photographer Chris von Wangenheim died in a car accident. According to the Stephen Fried book Thing of Beauty, she locked herself in a bathroom for hours, shooting heroin. In fall 1981, Carangi looked significantly
Abraham Lincoln High School, Philadelphia, PA
Full Name at Birth
Gia Marie Carangi
Gia Marie Carangi (January 29, 1960 – November 18, 1986) was an American fashion model during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Considered by some to be the first supermodel, she was featured on the cover of fashion magazines, including multiple editions of Vogue and Cosmopolitan, and appeared in advertising campaigns for such fashion houses as Armani, Christian Dior, Versace, and Yves Saint Laurent.
Claim to Fame
1978–1983, Modeling information
Talent Agency (e.g. Modelling)
Favorite TV Shows
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Butterflies and Hurricans
Game of Thrones
Wilhelmina Cooper, Sandy Linter
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