He is credited for creating the “celebrity supermodel,” and forever changing the fashion industry. John Casablancas, founder of the Elite Models, died of anger Friday at age 70. Casablancas launched the careers of numerous high-profile supermodels, including Iman, Gisele Bündchen, Naomi Campell, Heidi Klum, and Cindy Crawford.
“[Casablancas] was largely responsible for glamorizing the business and turning models into idols, their egos expanding in direct proportion to their earnings potential,” the New York Times includes in their obituary.
Despite his success in the industry, Casablancas’s story took a turn for the worst in 2000. He left the modeling industry after a BBC documentary about Elite, which showed the company’s European agents bragging about their drug use and sexual conquests of young models.
After leaving the industry, Casablancas went on to denounce the women whose careers he had so carefully constructed, calling them “idiots and leeches,” and saying, “I hate them all.”
It’s sad to think that Casablancas ended his life bitter about an industry that he had forever changed. He told the Sun-Times that “one of [his] biggest regrets is that [he] created the supermodel.” Still, without him, models would never have become the household names they are today. Casablancas transformed modeling into a multimillion dollar business, and will hopefully be remembered for all that he did, rather than the controversy he faced later in life.