"You can take a little girl who's selling vegetables in Utah and six months later put her on the cover of Vogue," John Casablancas once told the Chicago Tribune. And over the course of his career, the founder of Elite Model Agency did exactly that, plucking girls from small towns, farms, and general obscurity to turn them into supermodels.
After a few false starts in other jobs, including PR and finance, Casablancas started Elite Models in Paris in 1972, eventually moving to New York in 1977. He quickly ditched the more prudent industry standards of agencies like Ford, eventually coming to embody the louche, debauched side, going to clubs and entangling himself in romances with his girls. Scandal followed him throughout his life, from his highly publicized affair with a 16-year-old Stephanie Seymour, to his famed "model wars" with other agencies, to his forced retirement from Elite in 1999 after a BBC exposé about drugs and sex inside the agency. Nonetheless, Elite girls became a generation of highly successful, one-name icons: Cindy, Linda, Naomi, Claudia, Heidi, Giselle, and so forth. "His vision changed the model management concept, driving the careers of iconic top models,'" said Stefania Valenti, chief executive officer of Elite World in WWD.
In 2005, he returned to his empire, only to find that everything had changed. “After me, nothing happened," he told New York Magazine. “The business has become extraordinarily dull.”
Casablancas is survived by his wife, five children, and a world of supermodels who owe their starts to him.
Shop: Summer Dresses
Most Viewed Stories
Mary-Kate Olsen Strains Every Muscle in Her Face in an Attempt to Smile
Former Miss Universe Becomes U.S. Citizen So She Can Vote Against Trump
Area Woman Interrupted by Man 25 Times in 26 Minutes
2009 Called — It Wants Its Vogue-Versus-Bloggers Fight Back.
Hillary Clinton’s Sickest Debate Burns
The Fashion Executive Who Doesn’t Wear Underwear on Dates
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
25 Famous Women on Being Alone
Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber Are Separating After 11 Years Together
Uh-Oh, Is Rob Kardashian Feuding With Kylie Jenner?
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesCiara's Wedding Dress Was Too Big for the Chapel
To be fair, it was a 13 foot-long dress.You and Rihanna Will Both Want to Invest in Dior’s New Bag
It's got something for everyone.Polo Shirts Have Turned Their Back on Ryan Lochte
Along with his other major sponsors.Ryan Lochte Will No Longer Be Paid to Wear Tiny Bathing Suits
Speedo remains committed to transparency.Laura Brown Is the New Editor-in-Chief of InStyle
After 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar.Tyra Banks Is Going to Teach a Class on Smizing at Stanford
"If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them."This Floating Pier Is the Most Zen Installation Ever
Walking on water in Italy.Nation Is Appalled by Matt Lauer’s Nude Ankles During Ryan Lochte Interview
What’s the opposite of “Jeah”?8 People at the Life of Pablo Pop-up Explain Why Kanye West Is a God
"I mean, Kanye West is just Kanye West. There's not more or less you can say about Kanye West. He's just Mr. West!"A T-shirt Is Enough
Simplicity, versatility, and cool. What more could you want?
She took a perfect pencil dive off a 30-foot yacht.American Apparel Is Being Sued by Former Workers
As the company considers putting itself up for sale.A Gendered History of the Tailored Suit
From Marlon Brando to Coco Chanel.How Zendaya Developed Such Great Style at the Young Age of 19
The star's best looks from Disney to now.Proof That If You’re Chic Enough, a Little Federal Investigation Doesn’t Matter
Is this the best they could do?5,300-Year-Old Mummified Iceman Probably Would’ve Been a Street-Style Star
He had several different looks and was “pretty picky.”J.Crew Has Identified 226 Shades of Pink
Even more than there are shades of gray.Gigi and Bella Hadid Merch Is Now Somehow a Thing That Is Happening
Today in Hadidiana.Gird Your Loins for the Return of Yeezy to New York Fashion Week
The season approaches.This Indie Brand Had a Great Response to Ivanka Trump
When she bought one of their cuffs, they donated the proceeds to the Clinton campaign.