Givhan: Amy Winehouse's Broken Beauty

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Robin Givhan, correspondent for the Daily Beast, writes a moving portrait of Amy Winehouse and the fashion industry.


There was always something disconcerting about the fashion industry's fascination with singer Amy Winehouse. The troubled, drug-addicted singer, who was found dead in her London apartment over the weekend, had a soulful voice and distinctive style that captivated designers. When her Back to Black was released in 2006, her sad, anti-intervention anthem "Rehab" regularly served as the aural backdrop for runway shows. The models were often as spindly — and as disconnected — as Winehouse herself would eventually become.

The public in general recognized the familiar road Winehouse was barreling down and awaited that inevitable, final moment of self-destruction with both dread and prurient curiosity. Just how bad would it be?

But fashion’s relationship to her was especially complex.

The industry has some experience with addiction and 12-step programs; that it would be empathetic of Winehouse and drawn to her music is no surprise. Designers, models, and other players within the business have faced down the kind of enormous personal demons that have done in many a young musician or actor. Some have struggled privately with an unnerving tendency to overindulge at parties, believing that the only way to navigate fashion’s turbulent social waters was with the help of one too many glasses of Champagne. Some have relied on vodka tonics or other bracing cocktails to cope with the stresses of corporate demands while also living up to a self-created glamorous persona that was as much narcissism as it was a marketing strategy. And others, from Donatella Versace to Marc Jacobs to John Galliano, have had full-on public meltdowns requiring the intervention of friends and colleagues, followed by the intense personal work that can only be conducted in rehab.

Read Robin Givhan's entire article at the Daily Beast.

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