Katy and Glenda 'fell out over man'
IT'S billed as the Battle of the Beauties, the intense rivalry between Ireland's two top models. But the animosity between Glenda Gilson and Katy French runs a lot deeper than fierce competition - their history has elements of a Shakespearean drama.
A man is at the root of their mutual resentment - Glenda's brother Damien Gilson, who went out with Katy for a year before they split.
Society sources say the two girls were the best of pals before Katy and Damien broke up, but their friendship turned sour afterwards. Now Katy is exacting revenge for the snub by stealing Glenda's crown as the most in-demand model on the circuit.
Glenda, 28, clearly believes blood is thicker than water and sided with her brother, 29, to whom she is very close. GG, as she is nicknamed, has been cool to young pretender Ms French, 23, ever since, say insiders.
Katy says that the break-up with Damien changed her relationship with Glenda. "We were actually quite close at one point, when I was going out with Glenda's brother. But when Damien and I split up, our friendship just kind of fizzled out, you know how it is . . . But we are still friends in work together."
Katy's new best friend is canny model Andrea 'Rochey' Roche. Either Katy has a thing for brothers, or she likes being part of a gang, as her most recent love interest is rumoured to be Andrea's brother-in-law, millionaire's son Jim Mansfield Jnr.
Andrea is married to Jim Jnr's brother PJ.
A source who knows both girls said: "You should never let a man come between friends - that's what happened with Katy and Glenda. Glenda's brother Damien is the reason they don't get on. Before that, they were quite close. But the break-up was very messy and Glenda distanced herself from Katyafterwards.
"Now you never ever see them together; at events they stay well apart."
Damien certainly had his own problems. In 2002, he was arrested after punching a detective in the mouth and attempting to headbutt him and knee him in the groin. He was subsequently ordered to pay €7,500 in damages to thedetective.
The rapid modelling success of Katy has deepened the rift between the girls.
Officially, both insist they "don't hate" each other. But the distinct froideur between them has been noted by media-watchers, who dub them 'Zoolander and Hansel' after the comedy film.
One man-about-town said he believes the standoff is less about family loyalty and more to do with Glenda's career.
"She is annoyed because she has worked hard to get beyond the silly photoshoots on Grafton St and she gets classy gigs now and is also working as a TV presenter.
"But with all this Katy versus Glenda stuff, Glenda is once again just another one of Ireland's Lovely Girls, desperate for the most attention from the tabloids. It's damaging her profile."
The source said that Katy's desire to work in TV and radio is also a source of contention, with Glenda believing she is riding on her coat-tails.
He said: "Katy said she plans to do a media course in London, which drove Glenda mad." It will annoy GG further, then, to hear that one of Ireland's well-known broadcasters believes Katy is "a natural" on television.
Respected RTE Radio One presenter Brenda Donohue, who appeared alongside Katy for a Celebrity Face Your Fears special on the Late Late Show, said: "We had to record a small clip urging people to vote for us. Katy was a natural, relaxed and confident. She should be snapped up."
The two models' body language was distinctly chilly when they teamed up for a promotional photoshoot in Dublin last week.
In what is becoming a pattern, Glenda fled as soon as the cameras stopped clicking, while Katy lingered to chat to reporters and deny she and Jim Mansfield Jr were anything more than just good friends.
It was the same story at a public debate on the modelling industry recently, that the two were set to attend. Glenda cancelled her appearance, saying she had to work in her new job as a TV presenter with Bubble Hits. Katy turned up and hammed it up to the max in a cheeky T-shirt emblazoned with the acronym FOKF. It stands for F*** Off Katy French, a phrase coined by those who say they are sick of looking at her in newspapers every day, promoting everything from lagging jackets to lingerie.
She wore it as a two-fingered salute to her detractors.