She coached, she scolded—and she launched the careers of some of the world’s great models. Eileen Ford, who died this week at the age of 92, will be remembered forever by these famous beauties.
“Eileen is the mother of all matriarchs. All of Eileen’s girls will tell you the same thing: No matter how domineering and watchful their own mothers were, Eileen was worse. Many of her younger models came from Europe, Scandinavia, and all regions of the U.S., and she always had several of them living with her in her town house on East 78th Street. There was a strict curfew, and all potential suitors were examined as if they were Courbets at auction. And God forbid a girl should be slightly overweight: The rations became correspondingly skimpy. Let’s just say I was thrilled to be living at home with my parents… Even as my career was dissipating, Eileen remained a loyal friend and dispenser of motherly advice.”
“One time, Eileen and I were having lunch at 21. I told her I was pregnant, and she said, ‘You’ve got to get married.’ And I said, ‘We are, soon.’ She was adamant. She kept saying, You’ve got to get married.’ This is what she believes. I remember a time in my career when it made a difference which jobs I did. Saying no was equally as important as saying yes. She taught me that.”
“The first time I met Eileen, in Palm Springs, she was wearing a two-piece bathing suit. She puts my book on the table in front of her, and she starts flipping the pages very dramatically and going, Oh, this is terrible! Take this picture out of the book!’ As she’s gesturing, her suit moves aside and leaves her breast hanging out! I’m like, Oh, my gosh! I’m going to pretend I don’t see that.”
Carmen Dell’Orefice (pictured above, with Ford)
“I was 16 when I met Eileen. I was under 100 pounds, five nine, flat-chested. I was puny-looking and quite unsophisticated. And there was this beautiful young woman—not much older than myself—hunched over with glasses on the end of her nose. She looked at me and said, Well, we will try.'”
“I always had these huge eyebrows when it wasn’t at all fashionable. She put these tweezers to my head. She plucked them without using any hot water. Do you know how much that hurts? All she said was, These eyebrows, these eyebrows.'”
“Eileen and Jerry [Ford, Eileen’s husband and Ford Models cofounder] would be in bed at night. They were always watching the news. I’d sit on the bed and watch the news with them. Then I’d give them a kiss good-night and run across the corridor to my bedroom.”
All quotes are from a 2001 Allure profile of Ford.
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