Paige Adams-Geller





Fashion designer and model

Born c. 1969, in Wasilla, AK; married Michael. Education: ] Earned degree in broadcast arts from the University of Southern California.

Addresses: Office ]—c/o Paige Premium Denim, 116 N. Robertson Blvd., Ste. B, Los Angeles, CA 90048.

Career

Competed as a teen beauty pageant contestant, early 1980s; won Alaska title in the Miss Charm pageant, c. 1982; signed with the Elite modeling agency, and worked as a petite-division model in New York City after 1985; won California title for the Miss America pageant, 1991; appeared in television commercials and in guest spots on Evening Shade ] and Baywatch ]; worked as a fit model, c. 1999-2004; launched own denim line, Paige Premium Denim, 2005.

Sidelights

Former model Paige Adams-Geller launched her own jeans line, Paige Premium Denim, in 2005. Though her name is unknown to most, Adams-Geller was the curvy secret weapon among jeans manufacturers for a number of years prior to that as the industry's top "fit model." Designers of such high-end lines like Lucky Brands and Seven for All Mankind considered her body type ideal, and so bringing out her own line of jeans seemed a natural career progression, she told Nola Sarkisian-Miller in WWD. ]"I've always loved fashion, and I definitely had a voice and shared my opinions as a fit model. It only made sense to try my hand at this."

Born in the late 1960s in Wasilla, Alaska, Adams-Geller never imagined a career as a model. "I knew I was smart, a straight-A student, but I had never identified myself as pretty, " she recalled in an interview with a writer for London's Independent Sunday ] newspaper, Mark Ellwood. "In a nutshell, I was an overweight, chubby kid—I used to be called Pudgy Paigey. I wouldn't have labelled myself fat, but other kids poked fun at me and teased me because I had very chubby cheeks and a pear-shaped figure."

As she entered her teens, Adams-Geller shed some pounds and began entering beauty pageants. At the age of 13, she won the Alaska title and went on to represent her state in the Miss Charm pageant, and later competed in the Miss National Teenager and America's Junior Miss pageants. Modeling-agency talent scouts were regulars at such contests, and while some showed interest in signing her, they suggested she lose more weight. She took their advice, but veered into anorexia thanks to a 600-calorie-a-day eating plan and heavy exercise. After graduating from high school at the age of 16, she moved to New York City and signed with the Elite agency. Because she was relatively short for a model, at five feet, seven inches, she was slotted in the petite division, and worked steadily for the next few years.

But the pressure of staying thin in order to work was ruinous to her health, Adams-Geller told Michelle Tan in People. ] "It became a sickness that I couldn't stop. Everyone's controlling you—agents, manager and parents. I couldn't deal with what everyone else was telling me, but I could control how much I weighed." She finally quit the modeling business, and enrolled at the University of Southern California, where she majored in broadcast arts with a minor in theater. Drawn into the pageant world once again, she won the Miss California title in 1991, and went on represent her adopted state in the Miss America contest. Though she did not place in the national event, her state title win opened many other doors, and she soon found work in television commercials, daytime dramas, and as a guest star on series that included Evening Shade ] and Baywatch. ]

Adams-Geller's eating disorder continued to be a problem for her, however. "I starved myself so much I didn't have enough energy to get out of bed, " she told Tan in the People ] interview. "I couldn't eat with normal people. I couldn't really be normal." Finally in 1999, she entered an in-patient treatment facility to learn how to eat normally and come to terms with her body image. When she emerged, her measurements of 36-27-37 led to a new career as a fit model. "For print and runway work, you need to be 10 to 15 [pounds] under weight, " she explained to Ellwood in the Independent Sunday ] interview. "I was always fighting the 15 [pounds] that never wanted naturally to stay off my body. It was tough for me—I had to treat my body abusively to get that weight off, restrict myself from eating or exercising too much. With fit modelling you can't get a job if you're too skinny—you need to be a nice, healthy, American size."

By then, a new fashion trend for high-end designer denim had taken hold of the women's apparel market in the United States, and Adams-Geller became the most sought-after fit model in the sub-industry when Jerome Dahan, the former denim designer for Lucky Brand, hired her when he was working on what would become the Seven for All Mankind line. Dahan believed that if he could get the fit exactly right on Adams-Geller, his jeans would look right on any woman. By 2001, Dahan's low-rise, distressed Seven jeans had developed a cult following among women for their perfect fit, and were selling out in stores despite a price tag of $100. The Seven line launched a denim craze, and a slew of other premium-priced lines hit the market. Adams-Geller found herself in high demand for a few years, working as a fit model for Hard Tail, Guess, True Religion, Lucky, Habitual, and Liquid, among others. She also worked with Dahan again on his next venture, the Citizens of Humanity jeans label, which arrived on the market in 2003.

Adams-Geller learned a lot in five years, she told Adam Tschorn in the Daily News Record. ] "I'd get to look at the patterns, see how fabrics draped, hear them talk about problems with shrinkage and production tolerance, and experience firsthand what happens when things go into production, " she said. With the expertise of her husband, Michael, she set up a deal with a manufacturer, and Paige Premium Denim was introduced in early 2005. The jeans quickly attracted a devoted celebrity following, including actress Eva Longoria from television's Desperate Housewives ,] fashion model Amber Valletta, and singer Mandy Moore. Estimated sales for the first year were pegged as high as $3 million the first year, with retail prices between $75 to $270.

Adams-Geller works full-time on her denim business, after having officially retired from modeling. In late 2005, she opened Paige, situated in Los Angeles' trendy shopping mecca along Robertson Boulevard. What would be her fifth major career move seemed a perfect fit for Adams-Geller, who still attends support-group meetings to stay healthy. "I'm feeling good about myself, " she told WWD ]'s Sarkisian-Miller, "and hope to make other women feel the same way."

Sources

Daily News Record ,] November 28, 2005, p. 11.

Independent Sunday ] (London, England), November 7, 2004, p. 25.

People ,] June 13, 2005, pp. 131-32.

WWD ,] September 9, 2004, p. 18; April 7, 2005, p. 8; November 17, 2005, p. 8.

Carol Brennan



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