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Eileen Ford: She Created Supermodels

Christie Brinkley in 2005

Christie Brinkley in 2005

The beautiful women who display designers’ new fashions on the runway and grace magazine covers are more than just celebrities – they’re brand names in their own right.  We even have a word for them: supermodels.

To a great extent, we can thank Eileen Ford for making all those models so super.

Ford, who died on July 9 at age 92 in Morristown, N.J.,  in 1947 cofounded – with her late husband Jerry – Ford Models, the agency that became the top provider of modeling talent in the world and turned modeling into what the New York Times calls “a serious business” with seven-figure contracts. As the agency’s chief talent scout, she discovered and groomed many, if not most, of the world’s most famous models, among them Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs, Naomi Campbell and Elle Macpherson. Many of her protégés – including Jane Fonda to Kim Basinger, to name just two – eventually made the leap from the runway to even greater fame in Hollywood. She even discovered future multimedia domestic diva Martha Stewart, who modeled for Ford to pay her way through college.

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But Ford’s selections – in particular, her preference for the fresh-faced, healthy “girl next door” look – helped to set the world’s standard of beauty. “I create a look and I create a style,” she once said. “American girls mean a great deal to me. I help them understand how they can look better.”

Here are some facts about Ford and her career:






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Here’s a short documentary about Ford.


Photo: National Institute of Health


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