USA: FASHION MODEL AMY WESSON BEING SUED BY FORMER AGENCY UPDATE

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(3 Oct 1997) English/Nat

A top-ranking American fashion model is being sued for five (m) million dollars by her former agency over alleged drug abuse.

New York-based model agency Company Management claims Amy Wesson abused cocaine among other drugs, rendering her incompetent to fulfil her contract.

Robert Flutie, head of Company Management, is now suing after Wesson allegedly signed a second contract with a Paris-based modelling agency – Marilyn Inc.

Behind the glitz and glamour of international catwalks, it seems, another reality is rearing its head.

In the fiercely competitive world of fashion, models are being lured into drugtaking in the bid to achieve the latest look, referred to as “heroin chic”.

19-year-old top model Amy Wesson was the teenage star of Valentino and Versace ads.

But her former agency claims she took so many drugs she missed assignments and had to be propped up at fashion shoots.

The agency is now suing her for the loss of millions.

Speculation about drug abuse among supermodels is rife in the fashion world.

But until now few have spoken about the problem, seeing it simply as another example of the corruption and excesses which characterise the industry.

With the lawsuit, Wesson’s former agency boss has now brought the problem into the open.

He claims the lawsuit is not for the money but to send Amy Wesson and her colleagues a wake-up call.

SOUNDBITE:(English)
“I think unfortunately Amy has become a victim of a problem that plagues a lot of our society’s different industries. The difference here is that we are under a spotlight, this is a high profile business, there’s a lot of glitz and glamour and I think a lot of people in our society don’t like to see the bubble being burst.”
SUPER CAPTION: Robert Flutie, Executive Director, Company Management

Flutie says Wesson’s alleged drug problem caused her to show up late, disappear for many days, upset clients and lose money for the agency.

Mississippi-born Wesson is currently in Milan, where she is due to take up modelling assignments for ready-to-wear shows.

SOUNDBITE:(English)
“Our efforts went unanswered. She literally disappeared off the face of the globe. We were unable to be in touch with her for several weeks. The clients were calling and requesting her. We were unable to do our job of fulfilling our obligations to her as a manager and we had to take measures to protect our legal interests. That’s what the lawsuit’s about.”
SUPER CAPTION: Robert Flutie, Executive Director, Company Management

The lawsuit against Wesson comes as the fashion industry tries to clean up its tarnished image.

Earlier in the year, President Clinton attacked the fashion industry for promoting the sickly heroin look, with images of gaunt, pale looking models posing as if under the influence of drugs.

The president claims the glazed, emaciated looks were telling young people that addiction was glamourous and sexy.

The Wesson case is the second drugs scandal to hit the fashion world this year.

The death by heroin overdose of a young New York based fashion photographer prompted an earlier outcry by President Clinton.

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