While you might not have heard of legendary manager scout John Casablancas, who passed away on Saturday aged 70, you’ll certainly be aware of the women he thrust into fashion’s spotlight. As founder of Elite model agency, Casablancas discovered Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Claudia Schiffer and helped shape the careers of Cindy Crawford, Gisele Bundchen and Heidi Klum. To call him 'Mr Supermodel' would be no exaggeration, and the agency he founded in Paris in 1972 and opened in New York in 1977 continues to be one of the industry’s most powerful names to this day.
Stefania Valenti, chief executive officer of Elite World released a statement this weekend which paid tribute to Casablancas’ impact on the world of model management, “Elite World and The Society Management [a division of Elite World] are deeply saddened [by] Mr. John Casablancas’ passing. As a man of extraordinary talent, Mr. Casablancas was instrumental in formulating the global success of the Elite brand. His vision changed the model management concept, driving the careers of iconic top models.”
John Casablancas Surrounded by Models in the '90s
While stunningly successful, Casablancas’ career was also beset with scandal and accusations of sleeping with teenage models signed to his agency. He famously stepped out with a 16 year old Stephanie Seymour aged 41 and an undercover BBC report in 1999 revealed Elite’s Europe executives bragging about their use of drugs and sexual relations with young models which while not implicating Casablancas himself, prompted his resignation from the agency a year later.
Casablancas ultimately relocated to Rio de Janiero where he died this weekend leaving behind his wife Aline and five children.