Eileen Ford, maverick of the modeling industry, dies at 92

Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:09pm EDT
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By Mary Milliken

(Reuters) - Eileen Ford, the founder of the Ford Models who promoted the fresh-faced look of American women and set the stage for the phenomenon of celebrity super models, has died at the age of 92, the agency said on Thursday.

Ford died on Wednesday from complications from meningioma and osteoporosis, the agency said.

Since starting the Manhattan agency with husband Jerry in 1946, Ford showed she had an eye for talent, discovering Candice Bergen in the 1960s and Lauren Hutton in the 1970s, and signing precocious beauty Brooke Shields as child.

"Eileen’s contributions to the modeling and fashion industries are unmatched," Ford Models said in a statement announcing her death.

"She founded Ford Models 68 years ago and due to her unwavering passion, curiosity and drive, grew Ford into one of the world's most prestigious agencies."

Born and raised in New York City, Ford herself was a model while studying at Barnard College, and also worked in photography, fashion and as a fashion reporter. She and Jerry would often invite aspiring models to stay at their house when they got started.

The Fords were credited for helping to make modeling a lucrative profession by pushing for payment not for a day or hour, but rather for the usage of the model's work, and for signing models to exclusive contracts for specific brands.

That economic foundation spawned the high-paid celebrity super model of the 1980s, when Ford Models was arguably the most important modeling agency. Ford represented a few of them herself, including Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Elle Macpherson.   Continued...