Eileen Ford On Raising Naomi Campbell, How Modeling Has Changed

The modeling industry probably wouldn’t even be a fully fledged industry today if it weren’t for Eileen Ford, the model who founded Ford Models, one of the most successful talent agencies in the world today. Ford opened up shop in 1946, and in a new interview with V Magazine, she explains that the industry she created is now a completely different world.

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Ford sat down for a Q-and-A that’s in V‘s upcoming models issue, Ford said her greatest success was making “an industry where there wasn’t one.” And it turns out you can’t create an international business without creating a few things. While the interview is online yet, V was kind enough to give us an exclusive sneak peak, and we’ve included our favorite tidbits from it below.

On the biggest difference between modeling now and modeling then:

Well, modeling has always been a business. But it was not the way it is today where models have clothing lines. Look at Kate Moss. Back then, models were stars, but they were not at all commercially successful as brands because nobody ever thought of using them that way, except maybe CoverGirl.

On raising Naomi Campbell:

” … don’t forget, I was different, I was very strict. Naomi Campbell left us four times. The first time was when she was 16, and she was living with us, and I wouldn’t let her smoke. So she left us, and then there were various other things. But every time I would put down a new law.

And on that note, about diversity:

There were black models. Diversity is gradual. We did the first modeling competition in Beijing, and the girl who won couldn’t get permission to leave China. So it’s hard to accept what isn’t, but if she’s a good model she’s a good model. Business is business, and it’s very practical. If you can find a girl who can sell merchandise, she’s your model. Models are saleswomen.

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On getting the right fit:

If it didn’t work, it didn’t work, and I was always amazed to find that somebody didn’t agree with me. but with a girl like China Machado, she was from Protugal, actually, and I just loved the way she looked. the first thing I did was send her to Muriel Maxwell at Vogue, and Muriel — from the Bronx with a British accent — said, “Oh, she’s too chinky for us.” I was crying and crying. [Richard] Avedon was around the corner, and I called and told him, and I was crying away, and he said, “Send her to me, let me see her.” And he made her.

He sure did. You can read the rest of this interview in V Magazine when the new issue hits newsstands November 8.

[V Magazine]

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