Gia Carangi was considered "the world’s first supermodel,” preceding the crop of supermodels who would shift the modeling industry in the 1990s. Gia Carangi images adorned the covers of the world’s top magazines during her short-lived career in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. In fact, at the start of her career she was featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan twice in the span of five months, and made the covers of the French, British and American Vogue. Her androgynous, borderline tomboy look and olive complexion favorably contrasted against the blonde-haired blue-eyed models that had been popular up until that time, and she was once described as a “beautiful punk, a butch pin-up girl.”
Gia was in high demand, and if it weren’t for her drug addiction and other self-destructive habits, her career would have cemented her legacy alongside famous supermodels like Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Cindy Crawford. But what Gia is perhaps best known for is her rapid self-destruction, which ultimately led to her untimely death.
How did Gia Marie Carangi die? She contracted a virus that was ravaging the world at the time, and one which the medical community knew little about — HIV, which soon had fully blown into AIDS. Stricken with the disease, ravaged by drug abuse, penniless, abandoned by all her friends, Gia passed away quietly in a hospital bed in 1986 with only her mother at her side. She was 26.
In 1998, HBO produced a film about the brief, beautiful, and reckless life of Gia Carangi, starring Angelina Jolie. But for most who haven't seen the film, Gia is little-known: a dark, quiet, but important figure from the history of modeling industry and the rise of the supermodel.
She Habitually Visited 'Shooting Galleries'
A Photographer Hid Gia's Track Marks For What Turned Out To Be Her Last CoverPhoto: Cosmopolitan/Fair use
Gia Was One Of The First Famous Women To Die Of AIDS
Gia Was Known For Outrageous Behavior On Set, Like Leaving In The Middle Of A Shoot To Get DrugsPhoto: Gia/HBO
She May Have Started Tricking To Pay For Her Drugs
She Developed A Bad Infection On Her Hand From Her Habit