Friday, 11 July 2014

Eileen Ford

Eileen Ford in 1948. Via

By now, I'm sure you will have all heard the news that Eileen Ford - co-founder of Ford Models with her husband, Jerry - died earlier this week, aged 92.

Ford Models in 1948: more here

It's staggering to look at the huge numbers of famous were once represented by Ford, and including names we now associate with professions other than modelling, such as Martha Stewart and Ali MacGraw, as well as Lauren Hutton, Jerry Hall and Christy Turlington. Less mentioned in the various articles about her life are the great faces of the 1940s and 50s she supported, including Dorian Leigh, Jean Patchett, Suzy Parker, Barbara Mullen and Lisa Fonssagrives.

When the Ford Agency was founded in 1946, they weren't the only ones working to professionalise the industry. John Powers and Harry Conover already ran successful agencies. But, a woman heading up an agency - much like Lucie Clayton in the UK - did shift how both models and the modelling industry were regarded, especially thanks to such shrewd family-friendly publicity as this Life piece from 1948, showing inside the agency. This picture shows model Joan Pedersen looking after a Ford child as Eileen watches on. She also made her agency into a brand, with books, newspaper columns and modelling competitions.

Eileen Ford's biography is apparently due to be published next year. Think of all those changes, not only affecting models but also fashion and working women more generally from the 1940s to today. It should be - if she has done herself, and all of her models, justice - a fascinating read.

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