Eileen Ford, who created the concept of supermodel in the beauty and fashion industry, died on Wednesday in Morristown, N.J. She was 92. Her company, Ford Models, created by Ford and her husband, Jerry, in the late 1940s, became the top agency in the world. It reinvented the modeling business with $1 million contracts for the elite few and brought class and decorum to what had been a seedy business, according to observers.
Some of Ford's best-known models included: Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs, Veruschka, Jerry Hall, Grace Jones, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Elle Macpherson. All of them had an impact in the beauty industry. Others went even further, with movie careers. They included Jane Fonda, Ali MacGraw, Brooke Shields, Candice Bergen, Rene Russo, Kim Basinger and Lauren Hutton. Even Martha Stewart was in the Ford family of models.
Although Ford is credited with bringing respectability to the industry, she did have her retractors, who insisted that her company promoted an unhealthy image of beauty. Ford didn't exactly dispel that image in 1971, when she appeare on “The Dick Cavett Show” and another guest, the writer Gwen Davis, compared a model agency to pimping.
Ford cooly responded, “I never worry about fat people worrying about thin people, because slender people bury the dead.”