The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

I.Am.Gia: a hidden story of drug addiction and celebrity

Does it matter that this stunning new label’s brand is caught up in a less-than-glamourous past?

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Australia’s darling has just been released in the UK. The enigmatic women’s fashion brand I.Am.Gia is fresh, sexy and, most importantly, affordable. I first discovered the label on Instagram at two in the morning. Scrolling through post upon post of cutting edge pieces modelled by ‘It girl’ celebrities I got that sinking ‘well obviously can’t afford this but cheers mate for tantalising me, nice one yeah’ feeling.

Yet another celebrity-endorsed, financially unattainable brand we drool over which eventually trickles down to cheap high street emulations so that Will from High Wycombe can wear a Topman hoodie that looks like one worth the same price as his parents car. There always seems to be a sort of glass ceiling between the ordinary folk like us students and quality high fashion.

Most of us don’t have a personal stylist with an unlimited budget and access to the catwalk samples. We have The Arndale Centre and three-five working days delivery followed by a note through the door from Keith the DPD driver saying I missed my delivery even though I specifically requested it be left in a safe place. Despite fast high street fashion, they always just miss it don’t they.

Well when I clicked on the link to the I.Am.Gia online shop for a laugh, I nearly rolled out of bed. For high quality, cutting edge fashion the prices were the same as you would find in any high street shop. My shopping bag frenzy began. IZAR TANK TOP £28? Add. JAGGER MINI SKIRT £45? Sold. CHER BANDEAU £34? Jackpot.

The clothes are named and based often on celebrities, for example the Uma pants based on THE yellow trousers in Kill Bill, the Cobain dungarees and the Gwen combat trousers. Visually, the website has all the trappings of a high fashion brand but without the price tag. For example, the Dazed magazine-esque photography and small collection make browsing feel like a classy, uncluttered and leaisurly shopping experience.

So what is this brand? A miracle sent from the cosmos? Well little is known about the labels origins, it remains tantalisingly secretive, adding to its allure all the more. What has been disclosed however, by the co-founder and designer Alana Pallister, is that the concept is based on the first supermodel Gia Carangi, a woman whose meteoric rise and catastrophic fall captured and embodied the fast living generation of the 1980’s. The idea is to create a ‘Gia of our time’ Pallister divulges.

This is a controversial concept because the supermodel had a debilitating addiction to class A drugs, ultimately contributing to her tragic death at the tender age of 26. It is now known that the raised needle bumps from the crook of her arm had to be airbrushed out of photographs. She wept and raged on set. She left mid-shoot in desperation for her fix. The reality was quite far from the glamorous images we are left with and from which the brand takes its inspiration.

It would be easy to say that the company is promoting a bad image for girls, especially with the 16 year old Kaia Gerber as the brands top ambassador (also the chilling spitting image of Gia herself. An innocent coincidence? Who knows). However, I think what they mean to do is look beneath the taboo and the tragedy, instead focusing on the soul of a woman who’s vibrancy and individuality captured the fashion world.

The story of the brand’s concept was kept secret for a long time and is still unknown to many, perhaps for the obvious reasons. Whether young supermodels or indeed ordinary women are aware of this darker side to the brand, I don’t know. However, I think to openly state Gia Carangi as its main inspiration and indeed name the label after her is a statement we should be aware of for whatever reasons, good or bad. There is more to come from I.Am.Gia. Just you watch.