ELITE MODEL MANAGEMENTfounder John Casablancas has died aged 70. The businessman passed away on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, reports WWD, following a long battle with cancer.
Casablancas was widely credited with launching the age of the "supermodel" in the Eighties and Nineties, having been responsible for the early careers of everyone from Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford to Gisele Bündchen and Heidi Klum. He launched Elite Model Management in Paris in 1972 before opening a New York office in 1977, and quickly proved serious competition for the Ford agency.
Casablancas was born in Manhattan and attended school in Switzerland, but lived out his later years in Miami and Rio de Janeiro. He resigned from Elite in 2000, shortly after a BBC undercover documentary was aired exposing some of the agency's European executives openly admitting to sexual relations with young models and recreational drug use. Casablancas himself was not implicated.
The businessman was renowned for his wild and flamboyant lifestyle - notably having an affair with a then-16-year-old Stephanie Seymour in the early Eighties. After resigning from Elite, Casablancas turned his back on the industry, proclaiming that supermodels were nothing but "spoilt pains" surrounded by "idiots and leeches", according to The Independent. He famously once said: "Apart from Linda Evangelista, no supermodel has ever thanked me when she got to the top."
John Casablancas died on Saturday aged 70