If fashion photographs could talk, and felt like telling the truth, you’d have Wildchilds—an accomplished and compelling first novel by a true insider.
— Joan Juliet Buck, author of The Price of Illusion and editor in chief of French Vogue 1994–2001


The loss of innocence, the death of beauty, and the price of success

Seventeen years ago, Iris was forced to abandon Gus, the love of her life, and her career as a top model in Paris. She has created a new life for herself and her daughter, Lou, in California. However, when the news of Gus’s unexpected death reaches Iris, her tenuously reconstructed life is thrown into chaos. A celebrated art and fashion photographer, Gus has left his estate to Lou, with one condition: Iris must travel to Paris and recover a missing collection of his work.

Iris soon discovers that she’s not the only one after the photographs. An old enemy is staking claim to them, and a notorious tabloid is threatening Iris with brutal—and very private—images of her past life. To protect her daughter from scandal, Iris needs to confront the demons that caused her to flee Paris, her career, and her life with Gus.

Iris embarks on a suspenseful journey through the closed world of the fashion industry, where the beautiful people do ugly things.

Will she expose the industry’s dark side and shameful secrets? Can she shield her family from the consequences?

Wildchilds is a work of fiction based on the truth.



Praise for Wildchilds

“If fashion photographs could talk, and felt like telling the truth, you’d have Wildchilds—an accomplished and compelling first novel by a true insider. Only Eugenia Melian knows every side of that world of beauty, sex, greed, and lies, starting as a model, becoming a leading photographer’s agent and a force in Paris fashion and culture of the eighties, nineties and two thousands. With cool passion and great suspense, she denounces the cowardice of those men who manipulate the most beautiful women in the world. Melian tells the story of Iris, the daughter of a famous magazine editor exiled to New York, who becomes a model in Paris and falls into love and peril. Melian’s descriptions of the steamy rise of sexual attraction on a fashion shoot are matched only by her exquisite, enchanted descriptions of a dark and secret Paris unknown to visitors.”

—Joan Juliet Buck, author of The Price of Illusion,
editor in chief of French Vogue 1994–2001

“Eugenia Melian is a natural storyteller. I was always blown away by the many amazing stories she told me about, during her many years in Milan and Paris as a model and respected photo agent. Eugenia is a true insider, and she always seemed to know everybody! Her first novel, Wildchilds, will take you beneath the surface of the beautiful and seductive fashion world. It immerses you in a captivating dark tale where young beauties coexist with master manipulators. Wildchilds is a window into a world inhabited by many that don’t want to be exposed. Get on board, Wildchilds is a wild ride!”

—Peggy Sirota, photographer/director

“As I was drawn through the slow, suburban American prelude of Wildchilds and into a darker place beyond, I became aware of feeling grubby and soiled because I had been involved in the world Eugenia Melian brings to life for the reader. 

Wildchilds is a love story but successful love stories in our milieu are rare. We see plenty of marriages of convenience that function as efficiently as any well-managed business partnership and whose players might even end up liking one another. In a world where the line between self-love and illusion and self-hate and delusion is so thin, true love, to paraphrase Charles de Gaulle, might sometimes win a battle but it is all too likely to lose the war. Do Melian’s lovers win? Maybe, maybe not. That is for you to decide.

It is of course a novel because legions of lawyers stand ready to jump on any memoir containing excessive truth about the fashion industry. Some of Melian’s characters remind me of boys and girls I knew in the Paris she describes. Others remind me of the men who preyed on them and the women publishing the fashion shoots that led to the lucrative advertising contracts providing such a handsome living for the top 10% of Planet Fashion’s inhabitants. 

Eugenia Melian and I used to meet for work-free lunches and dinners in Paris back in the day with other people who had crash-landed on Planet Fashion by accident. Condé Nast was still chic and still had room for misfits like me. Daily life was a little like being in one’s own episode of Absolutely Fabulous and yet, there was a darker side to it all. Any milieu dealing in youth and beauty will naturally attract predators of various kinds. But we were all relatively insulated from this aspect of it. 

We inhabited the drier areas of the swamp and only occasionally came into close contact with the bottom-feeders and bloodsuckers. We heard the stories about certain photographers, designers, agents and sundry movers in the business. We could turn a blind eye and we tended to do so as we dealt with individuals whose morals might have qualified them to run brothels and peg-houses in some of the seedier outposts of the French and British Empires in times past. 

Despite the promises of industry poohbahs to clean it all up and the brief attention of the MeToo movement, Planet Fashion remains a dangerous place and Melian’s debut novel ought to be compulsory reading for any young people considering a career in Fashion.”

—Prosper Keating, former Vogue and Vogues Hommes International editor

“A delight to read with real insight into the dark side of the 90s fashion scene. Wildchilds has gripping characters and a plot that makes it difficult to put down.”

—Celia Forner, top model, founder of Alleven

“Descriptions of moods, feelings, atmospheres and landscapes are magical under Eugenia´s refined sense of beauty and realness.“

—Chicho Gavela, stylist, art director

“Eugenia Melian artfully captures the passionate vulnerability of youth, the heartbreak of an ill-fated love affair, and the complexity of a contemporary mother-daughter relationship. This book is a very timely page-turner!”

—Kate Montgomery, filmmaker

 "There is drama, fun, sadness, intrigue... Lots of passion in this brilliant story of love and fashion. A page-turner great first novel not to be overlooked!"

—Ana Dominguez Siemens, design journalist and curator.

“ An outstanding  startling novel which reveals the dark sides of the behind the scenes proceedings in the international fashion world. Brilliantly described by an insider who has first hand experience about how the industry operates. It reads like a thriller.“

—J. S. de  Vicuña, film producer.

"I fell in love with this book immediately. Iris is just so relatable. And the writing? The writing is amazing. It's gritty, yet beautiful at the same time. Wildchilds is one of the best written books I’ve read in a while. I would one hundred and ten percent recommend this book to anyone and everyone."

Sunshine Bruno / Sunshine Reads

"This book is heartbreakingly beautiful."

ABCme / Goodreads

“In the idolized world of fashion Eugenia Melian tells and describes in a smart way how hard and difficult is for a young model get fame and recognition in a business where drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, depression, unhealthy lifestyle and loneliness are in many cases the pillars of their professional and personal career.

Main protagonist Iris de Valade, a super famous ex model in the nineties, will relive her distressing and heartbreaking past as model because of the death of her boyfriend, Gus, a super famous fashion photographer.

The novel has an ending that reveals a truly deep love story between Iris and Gus that will take your breath away! "

—Gustavo Lucendo Velasco, Comunicación y Prensa

 “It was a thrill to read and also took me on a cultural journey.”

—Hazel Butterfield/ Get Booked. 

 “Wildchilds is the juiciest fashion novel to date. Trust us, we could not put it down.” 

—Book Marc.

“First time novelist Eugenia Melian was my agent in Paris. She writes about what she knows. Set in Paris and starring the sexy cut-throat world of fashion photographers and their nucleus. Full of intrigue, scandal and sex. Real life or make believe?”

—Donna Trope, photographer/director.

“Here we get to lose our foothold, splintering through the deceptively thin veneer which is fashion and sink into the pools of mire lurking beneath. Recognisable, but then again not, Wildchilds presents us with what we are now beginning to accept to be an unfortunately all too common reality. A world, like so many others, where the unscrupulous wield absolute power, manipulating and exploiting the vulnerable, ignoring real cries for help, and why? Seemingly for no other reason than, it's just because they can

Eugenia Melian’s writing, no doubt largely from her own experiences as a model and agent, shows us what could and does happen. We eagerly follow the protagonists, Iris and Lou, mother and daughter, as the story accelerates to its conclusion, hungry for the truth, possible justice and ideally some sort of closure. A really great read.”

—Chris Plytas, photographer.