spacer spacer spacer
spacer Kim Alexis, Francesco Scavullo and Gia, St. Barts, 1980
title and story
Kim Alexis, Francesco Scavullo and Gia, St. Barts, 1980

If you picked up a fashion magazine in the late ‘70s you were bound to see Gia. And with good reason. As the photographer Francesco Scavullo wrote in his book “Scavullo Women,“ Gia was “my darling – old, young, decadent, innocent, volatile, vulnerable, and more tough-spirited than she looks. She is all nuance and suggestion, like a series of images by Bertolucci... I never think of her as a model, though she's one of the best. It's that she doesn't behave like a model; she doesn't give you the Hot Look, the Cool Look, the Cute Look; she strikes sparks, not poses. Out of doors, especially, I have never known anyone so excitingly free and spontaneous, constantly changing, moving (which drove me crazy until I got smart and learned to focus the camera faster) – she's like photographing a stream of consciousness.” She was certainly sweet – and crazy. One day while on vacation in St. Bart’s, I was walking with my girlfriend Wendy along the beach and came across a fairly frenetic photo shoot in process. It was tough to tell whether Scavullo or Gia was the center of the whirlwind. He was screaming directions, but she was ignoring him, doing what she wanted. And he was yelling, “Great! Great! Fabulous!” We watched for about 30 minutes. During a momentary lull, Gia approached me. She had noticed I was carrying a camera bag and wondered if I would take a picture of her and her favorite photographer. This is the result. We all had dinner that night, under a big tent. Gia seemed sweet and laid back – at bit too laid back to my girlfriend, who speculated that Gia was a junkie. When I protested, Wendy pointed out that it was odd to see someone always wearing long-sleeve shirts in the tropics. Two years later, Gia did her last shoot for the April cover of Cosmo. Scavullo told me afterward that it had become increasingly difficult to conceal the track marks on her arms and hands. And in 1986 she became one of the first women in the US to die of AIDS.

back to top


Home | Wifebeaters | My Back Pages | Recent Work | Personal Work | Legal | Credits | About | Contact

All images and text copyright © 1970-2023 Tom Zito