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A revealing, no-holds-barred portrait of the mythical Eileen Ford—the entrepreneur who remodeled the company of modeling and helped invent the fame supermodel.

Working along with her husband, Jerry, Eileen Ford created the 20 th century’s biggest and so much profitable modeling enterprise, representing the various model world’s most famed names—Suzy Parker, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Lauren Hutton, Rene Russo, Christie Brinkley, Jerry corridor, Christy Turlington, and Naomi Campbell. Her relentless ambition grew to become the enterprise of modeling into some of the most glamorous and wanted professions, supporting to transform her good of gorgeous faces into millionaire superstars.

Model Woman chronicles the Ford Modeling Agency’s meteoric upward push to the head of the style and wonder enterprise, and paints a colourful portrait of the uncompromising lady at its helm in all her glittering, tyrannical brilliance. Outspoken and debatable, Ford used to be by no means afraid to offend in security of her stringent criteria. while she selected, she might bring hauteur within the grand culture of fashion’s battle-axes, from Coco Chanel to Diana Vreeland—just ask John Casablancas or Janice Dickinson. yet she used to be additionally a clever businesswoman with a willing eye for expertise and a fondness for serving her clients.

Drawing on greater than 4 years of extensive interviews with Ford and her intimates, affiliates, and competitors, in addition to specific entry to business enterprise files and memorabilia, Robert Lacey weaves an unforgettable story of a decided entrepreneur and the empire she built—a tale of attractiveness, ambition, enterprise, and pop culture as robust and complicated because the lady at its center.

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She used to be a disciplined younger lady, and because amphetamines have been nonetheless on hand over-the-counter in France, she helped her slimming in addition to an everyday swallowing of fat burners. “I came upon myself jogging alongside the Champs-Elysées with the automobiles coming in the direction of me,” she later comparable, “but my physique had no response whatever . . . i used to be operating on fearful power. ” The younger girl who had come to Ford from Chicago was once additionally working at the choice to end up Eileen unsuitable in her prediction that she may by no means make a version. “I wish Eileen Ford to devour crow,” she advised Dorian Leigh—and she succeeded. whilst Wilhelmina (born Gertrude Wilhelmina Behmenburg of Dutch and German parentage) arrived again in manhattan from her Parisian “seasoning” within the fall of 1961, “those hips” to which Eileen had objected 365 days past had disappeared. Wilhelmina stood shapely and prepared at a lofty 5 foot ten (37-24-36) to overcome big apple. “Willy was once so professional,” recollects Wilhelmina’s booker, Rusty Zeddis. “I imagine it was once the German in her. She was once born in Holland yet raised in Germany until eventually she used to be undefined. in the event you observed her without make-up, you wouldn’t have given her an opportunity in any respect, yet she was once considered one of that new release of versions who nonetheless carried their hairpieces round city in a bag and did all their very own make-up as they went alongside. You knew that she could continually arrive on time, taking a look like one million cash. With such a lot of of the ladies, you'll by no means be relatively definite, even supposing you’d talked every thing via with them at the telephone—you consistently had that fear. yet Willy was once a pleasure; you'll expect her for every thing. ” The Ford head sheets from early 1962 onward record the great quantity of bookings that the slimmed-down Wilhelmina gained on her go back from Paris—sixteen pages fashionable within the month of April 1962 by myself, plus 5 pages in Mademoiselle and pages every one in Harper’s Bazaar and Glamour. “We had Willy booked strong for months,” remembered Eileen Ford. “With her attractive cheekbones, she was once the final of our ‘couture’ versions of the Fifties. She used to be simply excellent for all these early sixties Courrèges and Oleg Cassini outfits. ” Nor did the Youthquake knock the final of the couture versions off her perch. Wilhelmina might by no means be a Twiggy, yet she may definitely fit Jean Shrimpton. In 1964 the recent York magazine American said in “Private Lives of haute couture versions” that Wilhelmina had climbed to the “tip of the heap of the 405 women who paintings less than agreement to the city’s most sensible 5 enterprises. ” Teaming up with Irving Penn on the finish of 1965, she did a Christmas factor for fashion that matched the paintings of any of her more youthful English opponents. “Wilhelmina places the Shrimp and Twiggy within the shade,” the London day-by-day show might pronounce in 1967. by means of that date, even though, Wilhelmina used to be not operating for Ford—and now not just because she had jumped send to signal with a rival corporation. Having proved Eileen Ford fallacious through changing into a most sensible version, Wilhelmina was firm to turn out that she develop into a most sensible agent for versions.

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