Runway to Rape: The Rise and Fall of Anand Jon

Runway to Rape: The Rise and Fall of Anand Jon

Fashion designer Anand Jon never thought a prison jumpsuit and steel handcuffs would be his only accessories.

Before he was accused of undressing young girls behind closed doors, the 35-year-old Indian-born designer was the toast of New York's fashion scene. A daring designer with a long black mane of curls, he exuded a sense of international mystery, arrogance and sex appeal -- and he was on the cusp of something big.

Jon, a graduate of the Parsons School of Design, was determined to make his mark as an up-and-coming designer. He had the right credentials -- having interned with Donna Karen and partied with Gianni Versace -- and was frequently seen out with his trademark entourage of young, scantily clad women.

Aspiring Model Falls Victim to Anand Jon
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"They were just girls who wanted to be in the eye of fame, around people who were powerful," said fashion model Xenia Semias. "It was always girls coming in and out, girls fitting. Even celebrities would come in there and hang out."

Jon dressed socialites like Paris Hilton and Lydia Hearst and surrounded himself in the world of celebrity.

"His strategy was to make friends with celebrities -- to be seen with them, to get them to wear his clothes, where people who mattered would notice," said journalist Sharon Waxman, who covered the Anand Jon case for the Los Angeles Magazine and her Hollywood Web site, TheWrap.com.

Fashion Designer's Fall From Grace

And people did notice. In January 2007, Jon was featured in Newsweek as one of the hottest new designers to watch. From there, his career appeared to take off; he appeared as a celebrity judge on "America's Next Top Model," and was filming his own reality TV show.

Did Anand Jon's Designs Go Too Far?

Jon had earned a reputation for sexy clothes on sexy girls, but some in the fashion world thought his designs went too far.

"The most famous designers have shown sheer blouses, but there's something different about the way he did it that felt dirty," said fashion critic Robert Verdi. "The girls were, always really young, they weren't recognizable faces. It just felt arbitrary and it felt gratuitous."

CLICK HERE to see photos of Anand Jon through the years.

While his fashions were making a sensation, Jon's explosive personality and dangerous choices took him and the scantily clad girls who clung to him right to the edge...and perhaps over it.

"The things that you heard were that he was a predator. That he would come on to these young models, and promise them whatever he could to get his way with them," Verdi said.

Most of the girls -- often from small towns -- were thrilled to be noticed, especially by a famous designer.

Jessie, 18, fit the bill. A small-town makeup artist with a modeling portfolio, who loved being in front of the camera, Jessie said that Jon contacted her through MySpace and invited her to fly to Los Angeles on his dime. The aspiring model thought it was her big break.

"He wrote me an e-mail, saying that, you know, he loved my look ...It was, 'can I set up a photo shoot with you?' And I said, sure. I had Googled him online and seen that he had worked with Paris Hilton and all of those celebrities."

But she didn't know that her dream would turn into a nightmare.

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