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More Than Just a Pretty Face

A New Documentary Embraces the Cover Girls of Yesteryear

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Carmen Dell'Orefice, Gay Talese, and China Machado   
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The models were ready for their close-ups last night at the Paley Center for the premiere of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders' HBO documentary About Face: Supermodels Then and Now. Marisa Berenson, Isabella Rossellini, Beverly Johnson, and Jerry Hall are just a few of the former cover girls who star in this humorous, honest portrayal of an industry centered around the concept of beauty, and fleeting beauty at that. The film explores themes like self-esteem, plastic surgery, and what happens after the cameras turn off.

"I came to admire these women because of the fact that beauty is such a difficult thing to get your hands around," said Greenfield-Sanders. "It's so much a part of our lives in a good way, but there are also negative sides to it. These women dealt with beauty for their entire lives in a hyper way, and I have great admiration that they can get up every morning as they've gotten older and deal with the world as people."

The documentary reminds us that modeling isn't all jet-setting and Champagne. Along the way to superstardom, many of the women Greenfield-Sanders interviewed said they encountered industry evils like drug abuse, sexual harassment, and racism. "It was frightening to talk about some really terrible things," said Pat Cleveland. "You hate to go over that. It's like you want to drop the baggage, but it comes up because maybe other people have the same suitcase."

Calvin Klein has a brief cameo in the film. The man does know a thing or two about casting future superstars—Kate Moss, anyone? But for him, it's always been about more than a pretty face and perfect dimensions. "You mention the women's names here tonight and they are icons of their time," said Klein. "They have a certain energy that has transcended time."

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