I very much enjoy following fashion and modeling, and I have to give credit to author Michael Gross for touching on virtually every aspect of the modeling biz from 1915 - 1995. However, what started out as an interesting historical perspective turned quickly into essentially a blow-by-blow account of influence peddling and [sort of] slave trading over many decades. "Ugly business" is right.
For me, the major problem with "Model" is that it reads like a massive chronology of "who's screwing whom" (literally and figuratively), and practically everyone gets an entry: agents, bookers, photographers, backers, models and the playboys who pursue them. In the author's own words (p. 494): "The model business remains, as it has always been, a seething morass of beauty and money, grace and envy, sensuality and lust, yearning and backstabbing, glamour, greed, and glory beyond measure.
The progression of the business story is well thought out. The title of each main chapter relates to a time frame associated with the prevailing modeling fees. In between the main chapters are dialogues/interviews with key models of each period (Veruschka, Lauren Hutton, Janice Dickinson, and Veronica Webb, to name a few). I would have preferred more focus on the models as the primary subject matter, but the business is huge, with many players influencing everything from an agency's viability to which models get work (or don't). For me, there were too many never-heard-of-before names in the cast of characters. One look at the index proves that Mr. Gross has undertaken an exhaustive accounting of modeling business: 14-pages of tiny type, consisting of virtually every name associated with the modeling business one can think of. Yet, in a book of 500 pages, I'm wondering why Gia Carangi's life encompassed but a couple of paragraphs.
It's tough to put a number value on "Model," so consider me on the fence with a 3. For me the soap opera-ish tone of this book detracted far too much from the exhaustive historical accounting. It's a monumental work, but I just can't recommend it to everyone.