Cara Delevingne, H&M and Modeling Industry's Sordid Drug Past

Top model Cara Delevingne is reportedly being snubbed by H&M, as the retail chain appears to have reached a decision regarding a recent paparazzi shot showing Delevingne in possession of what appears to be drugs.

The scandalous photo, which shows the model accidentally dropping a tiny white plastic bag of white powder, appeared in UK tabloid The Sun in May.

At that time, Delevingne had already starred in an H&M campaign and in its first runway show, and a spokesperson for the company told the paper, “We have a zero tolerance policy towards drugs, and this also forms part of our advertising policy. Our team will evaluate the evidence over the next few days. If the story is true, then we will take action.”

On Sunday, an H&M spokesperson made it sound like the retailer had at least made a decision to steer clear of the rising star. "She is not a model with us and I think there was a misunderstanding that she was the face of H&M. We just used her for the show,” she told the Sun on Sunday, adding that there was “no particular reason” to use Delevingne again.

It's unclear whether H&M's comments signal a trend in the industry to want to stomp out any notions that skinny models on drugs are glamorous, or if news outlets are making a big to-do out of nothing. Yahoo! Shine did not immediately hear back from H&M or from Delevingne’s U.S. representative, Women Management.

Meanwhile, this is hardly the first time reports of drug use have surfaced in the modeling industry. Kate Moss was fired from H&M in 2005 after she was photographed allegedly snorting cocaine with then-boyfriend Pete Doherty. (She apologized to the chain and her career continued to soar.) Earlier this year, UK top model Sophie Anderton spoke out about her $600-day cocaine habit, telling the Mirror she was “lucky to be alive.” A 2012 survey by the Model Alliance found that, while nearly 70 per cent of models have suffered from anxiety or depression, more than half have been exposed to cocaine.

“Of course models take cocaine," a fashion insider told the Independent in a 2005 story on drug use in the industry. "So do designers. And hairdressers, particularly. It is there at fashion shows, definitely, but it is quite covert. If you're looking for a blizzard of cocaine, go on a shoot.…I think it goes with the territory."

But cocaine hasn’t been the only problematic substance behind the catwalk scenes. In the 1970s and ’80s, when model Gia Carangi became addicted to the drug during her rise to fame. She died in 1986, at age 26, of AIDS. Then, in 2006, James King, then a young model, became the poster-child for the "heroin chic" fashion trend, after a The New York Times Magazine profile revealed her early battle with the substance. (She's since overcome her addiction and launched a successful acting career.)

In 2012, when “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Jael Strauss confessed her meth addiction on “Dr. Phil”—which came just a few years after Dutch model Lara Stone spoke to Vogue UK about spending time in rehab for alcoholism. "I am a complete alcoholic,” she had said. “It used to be so easy to say to someone, 'Get me a bottle of vodka,' and they'd run and get it. Going to rehab was the best decision I ever made.” Naomi Campbell has also spoken out about her substance battles, once saying, “I never thought I was an alcoholic, but it goes hand in hand with the drugs. Emotionally, I was just gone.”

So will Delevingne survive the current scandal? She already has, according to at least one fashion blogger. “While H&M may object to Delevingne’s, erm, alleged extracurricular activity, the rest of the industry doesn’t seem to have such qualms,” wrote Fashionista’s Hayley Phelan. “With campaigns out for Fendi, Burberry, DKNY and more, Delevigne’s career is arguably hotter than ever.”

Still, Phelan told Yahoo! Shine that the public's growing distaste for messed-up role models, combined with industry reforms, could eventually catch up with stars involved in such scandals.

"In general, the modeling industry has been undergoing reform for the past few years, especially with the creation of the CFDA/Vogue Health Initiative and the Model Alliance," she said. "I think overall, that's lead to a healthier industry, or at least to an awareness of health issues like substance abuse and eating disorders. I think consumers' increased interest in seeing 'healthy-looking' models in magazines has been a huge catalyst for this reform. The problem is, a 'healthy-looking' model is not always healthy and vice versa."