Eileen Ford, ‘mananizer’ and co-founder of Ford’s Model Agency otherwise known as the ‘Fashion Queen’ began an era of supermodels that owned the Fashion World, past and present and set the path of the Fashion Industry for top models and celebrities alike.
Outspoken Eileen, born March 25, 1922 grew up in Manhattan in the suburb of Great Neck, an esteemed town where the 2013’s Great Gatsby was set, and was a model during her high school years. She married husband Gerard “Jerry” Ford in November 1944 after a mere 2 months of dating. The couple was known in the fashion world as business partners and Eileen was the more direct, hard and outspoken woman that clashed with many in the industry, and Jerry was recognised as her charming and masculine husband.
Her early life consisted of college and being quite a ‘player’ in her younger years where she stated, “I suppose you could say that I majored in men minored in psychology”. This perhaps created her great eye for good-looking, suitable beauties for her later, massive grossing agency.
Eileen began her business venture after transitioning from a job in advertising and a booking agent in a large department store, to become an independent agency, organising booking and discovering her own talent, which eventually evolved to become her agency, Ford Models.
Within a year of establishing the business, in 1947, Ford Models grossed $250,000, which is worth a massive 2.7 million today. Ford Models was strictly a professional environment and Eileen used tough love methods to keep her models in place, often using fear and intimidation to keep the workplace in order (which she was often scrutinised for). Although, the success and quality of models that Ford Models recruited during their establishment proved that both Eileen and Jerry were swimming in success, retaining in the early stages; Mary Jane Russell, Dovima (Dorothy Horan) and Carmen Dell’Orefice, some of the biggest muses and supermodels in the 40’s and 50’s.
Ford Models scouted more major supermodels in the late 20th Century and continues to scout top models today. Jerry Hall is arguably one of the most valuable assets to Ford, working for huge brands like Chanel, Vogue and Elle, and of course the association with her celebrity status family, but if it wasn’t for the management of Ford then she would have likely not obtained the success she did.
Huge names follow Jerry that have been skyrocketed from Ford Models like; Christy Turlington, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski to name a few, as well as establishing modeling careers for countless celebrities.
Last year on the 9th of July 2014 Eileen passed and her legacy was left for other’s to take over. She was remembered in her last months explaining to those close to her (and favourite supermodels) that “I always told you, you could do anything”. The women that Eileen believed in throughout her career laid the pavement for what we all recognise a supermodel to be and what the Fashion Industry is today. Her high standards, professionalism and drive made this timeless industry one that women could make a proper living from and experience a level of status and success that wasn’t for the taking before her entrance into this complex yet prized industry.
Take a look at Eileen from 2013 where she discusses her experiences with some of the greatest Fashion Legends over the past 6 decades!