An upcoming biography of Eileen Ford, the woman who invented the modeling business as we know it today, has been optioned for a TV series.
“Mistresses” creator K.J. Steinberg will adapt Robert Lacey’s “Model Woman: Eileen Ford and the Business of Beauty” for the small screen. The book will be published on June 16, 2015.
A former model who founded her own agency in her mid twenties, Ford and her husband Jerry eventually turned their company into one of the largest institutions in the modeling world. Her entrepreneurial feats are all the more impressive considering that Ford made her success during the postwar years when “proper” women returned to the home in droves and that she had to contend with a domineering husband with whom she had eloped.
Ford is credited with turning modeling, a “mostly part-time, poorly paid hobby, into one of the world’s most glamorous occupations, turning attractive girls next door into multimillionaire celebrity supermodels,” according to a People obituary. Her roster included Suzy Parker, Lauren Hutton, Rene Russo, Christie Brinkley, Jerry Hall, and Naomi Campbell.
“Eileen was an outspoken and controversial woman, never afraid to offend in defense of her traditional standards and, in particular, of the welfare of her models, to whom she was fiercely protective,” said Lacey. “Eileen Ford treated her models as her own children – many stayed with her and her family in their Manhattan townhouse at East 78th Street. With her husband Jerry she worked to improve models’ working conditions and wages, moving away from payment by the hour or day to the concept of payment by ‘usage,’ which laid the economic basis for the phenomenon of the supermodel.”
Here is the synopsis of Lacey’s book:
A revealing, no-holds-barred portrait of the legendary Eileen Ford—the entrepreneur who transformed the business of modeling and helped invent the celebrity supermodel.
Working with her husband, Jerry, Eileen Ford created the twentieth century’s largest and most successful modeling agency, representing some of the fashion world’s most famous names—Suzy Parker, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Lauren Hutton, Rene Russo, Christie Brinkley, Jerry Hall, Christy Turlington, and Naomi Campbell. Her relentless ambition turned the business of modeling into one of the most glamorous and desired professions, helping to convert her stable of beautiful faces into millionaire superstars.
Model Woman chronicles the Ford Modeling Agency’s meteoric rise to the top of the fashion and beauty business, and paints a vibrant portrait of the uncompromising woman at its helm in all her glittering, tyrannical brilliance. Outspoken and controversial, Ford was never afraid to offend in defense of her stringent standards. When she chose, she could deliver hauteur in the grand tradition of fashion’s battle-axes, from Coco Chanel to Diana Vreeland—just ask John Casablancas or Janice Dickinson. But she was also a shrewd businesswoman with a keen eye for talent and a passion for serving her clients.
Drawing on more than four years of intensive interviews with Ford and her intimates, associates, and rivals, as well as exclusive access to agency documents and memorabilia, Robert Lacey weaves an unforgettable tale of a determined entrepreneur and the empire she built—a story of beauty, ambition, business, and popular culture as powerful and complex as the woman at its center.