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Elite Model Management

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Elite Model World


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John Casablancas, Alain Kittler


Want to be a model elite model management tells you how

Elite Model Management is a chain modeling agency that originated in Paris in 1972 and expanded to numerous locations throughout the globe. It is a subsidiary of Elite World S.A.


Early years

Elite Model Management was founded in Paris, France in 1972 by John Casablancas (1942–2013) and Alain Kittler. Casablancas was inspired by his then-wife Jeanette Christiansen, former model and Miss Universe from Denmark, to open a model agency with the best talent. Casablancas founded the model agency with his savings. He and Christiansen are the parents of The Strokes frontman, Julian Casablancas.

Elite Model opened with several high-profile models including Ingmari Lamy; Ann Schaufuss, Clive Arrowsmith's girlfriend; Barry Lategna's wife Lynn Kohlman; Paula Brenken; and Paris Plannings Emanuelle Dano. Initially, the all-star lineup of well known models made Elite models a well known name in the industry. However, it also signaled the lineup's demise. Following the deaths of Emanuelle Dano and Paula Brenken, Casablancas realized his business model was all wrong.


At the time, boutique agencies in Paris and Milan fell out of favor with models due to payment issues. Models often found Parisian and Milanese model agencies holding their pay to coerce them into returning without work visas and work. British and American based chains gave models the financial security they needed. In 1977, Casblancas opened up Elite Models in New York. During the 1980s, New York endured the model wars. Despite agencies like Wilhelmina Models taking part in these wars, the primary battle was between Elite Models and Ford Models. Models such as Esmé Marshall left Elite for Ford Models. Casblancas alleged that Eileen Ford was out to get him and Ford responded with a $32.5 million suit. Until 1977, Ford was affiliated with Elite until Elite opened up offices in New York and began stealing Ford's models. Due to the death of Wilhelmina Cooper, models were in a panic bouncing from agency to agency. Even the highest paid black model at the time Beverly Johnson left Elite for Ford, only to return to Elite a week later.

Models such as Christie Brinkley and Anna Andersen sued Elite after they exited. In 1981, Elite Models formed a partnership with Models 1 which lasted until 1989. By 1983, Elite established the Elite Model Look, which was called The Look of the Year, Competition to rival its competitors Ford's Supermodel of the World Contest. The following year, the company expanded its offices in the U.S. with the formation of Elite Models Chicago, Elite Models Atlanta, Elite Models Los Angeles, Elite Models San Francisco, and Elite Models Miami. By 1986, Elite Models had twenty offices world-wide. In 1988, Elite opened offices in Milan. In 1994, Elite awarded its Greater China rights to Michel Lu with the opening of Elite Hong Kong & China. In 1996, Lu opened Elite in Singapore, which served as a regional office for South East Asia.

Elite World S.A.

Nicholas Farrae later purchased the agency in 1990. Elite World S.A. is the parent company of Elite Model Management. The expansion of Elite Models furthered as Elite Models formed partnerships with already established agencies. In 1990, Elite Models formed a partnership with Model Management Heidi Gross in Hamburg. In 1992, Munich Models was formed and formed a partnership with Elite Models. In 1994, Elite sought to break into the Asian market and established Elite Hong Kong and China with partner Michel Lu. Lu went on to open Elite Model Management Singapore in 1996 that served as a regional office for South East Asia. Similar to their debut in Paris, Elite swept up top local and regional talents such as Charmaine Harn, Junita Simon, Sonia Couling, and Nadya Hatagalung.

In 1999, a film was broadcast by the BBC showing the President of Elite Model Management, Gerald Marie, offering an undercover reporter sex for money. It was later proven that some images had been manipulated and the BBC admitted that its portrayal was unfair and had to make a substantial payout to the model agency In the wake of this controversy, Casablancas retired and formed the John Casablancas Modeling and Career Center in New York.

In 2002 Elite, along with several other New York model agencies, was sued for hundreds of millions of dollars in a class action that accused them of fixing fees for the past 30 years. The following year, Elite opens offices in Asia. At the same time, an employee was awarded $5.2 million in a suit concerning passive smoking in the US office of Elite. Unfortunately, all the bad publicity, the over expansion of Elite, and the loss of talents, Elite Model Management filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2004. Elite Models New York was put up for auction and bought by Florida businessman Eddie Trump, who asked Casablancas to come back and advise him. In August 2005, Elite reestablished Elite Models in Singapore using it as the satellite office for their new South East Asia operation. Branches in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Philippines were also added in August 2005. In October 2005, the Elite Model Look Competition was added in Singapore.

By 2006, Casablancas' appointment was short-lived and the company went public on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. In 2009, the president of Elite World (the parent company of Elite Model Management), Bertrand Hennet, was arrested on drug charges. At the same time, Elite Models acquired Elite Models Copenhagen in which was formally a licensee of Elite Models and was founded in 1966 by its former head booker Trice Tomsen. After her disappoint with Elite, she sold athe agency out right to Elite Model Management and was appointed Munir Bouylud as the new director. Also in 2009, Elite Model Management London opens nearly 20 years after its first attempt to have offices in London. It was also in 2009 that Elite Models Chicago and Atlanta severed ties with Elite and was renamed Factor Women.

In February 2011, Elite World shareholders elected a new Board of Directors. The new board election follows the acquisition of a controlling stake in Elite World by Pacific Global Management. In December of that same year, Elite opens Elite China in Shanghai.

In 2012, Elite Models Amsterdam acquires Model Masters in Amsterdam. Model Masters is best known for representing models who win Holland's Next Top Model. With that acquisition, Elite fired Ananda Marchildon for being "too fat". The company lost a breach of contract lawsuit by Ananda Marchildon and had to pay her around €65,000 damages.

In 2013, Elite opened a New York division under the name The Society Management.


Elite today manages over 2000 models from five continents. It offers international coverage with 35 agencies in its network. It holds the annual talent scouting contest, the Elite Model Look, which launched in 1983. With about 400,000 annual contestants in more than 60 countries, Elite Model Look has "discovered" many notable models, including Caitriona Balfe, Cindy Crawford, Gisele Bündchen, Stephanie Seymour, Alessandra Ambrosio, Tatjana Patitz and Lara Stone.

Elite represents, or has represented such models as Julia Saner, Iman, Linda Evangelista, Tyra Banks, Gisele Bündchen, Joanna Krupa, Huggy Ragnarsson, Adriana Lima, Kelly Gale, Naomi Campbell, Karen Elson, Carol Alt, Özge Ulusoy, Monica Bellucci. Liya Kibede, Heidi Klum, Eva Herzigová, Tatiana Sorokko, Angelika Kallio, Paulina Porizkova, Olga Puchkova, Alessandra Ambrosio, Jennifer Flavin, Coco Rocha, Liu Wen, Veronica Webb, Crystal Renn, Anna Bayle, Stephanie Seymour, Nina Agdal, Kaleb Murray, Chloe Lloyd, Pooja Mor, Bridget Malcolm, Joséphine Le Tutour, Estelle Chen, Pauline Hoarau Anna Nicole Smith, Bharat Kundra, Erika Lucas and Kathryn Edwards.

From 2007-2011, the company was the official license holder to select a representative for the United States at the Miss World pageant.

Agencies past and present

  • 1972-Elite Models Paris
  • 1977-Elite Models New York
  • 1981-Models 1 Elite London (partnership severed in 1989)
  • 1981- Elite Models San Francisco (now defunct)
  • 1981- Elite Models Chicago (renamed Factor Models Chicago & now privately owned)
  • 1981- Elite Models Atlanta (renamed Factor Models Atlanta & now privately owned)
  • 1985- Copenhagen Models (renamed Elite Models Copenhagen, Licensee, Acquired in 2009)
  • 1987- Elite Models Ohio (now defunct)
  • 1988-Elite Models Milan
  • 1990- Heidi Gross Model Management (Licensee)
  • 1992- Munich Models (Licensee)
  • 1996- Elite Models Singapore (re-established in 2005)
  • 2005- Elite Models Malaysia
  • 2005- Elite Models Thailand (later renamed Elite Models Bangkok)
  • 2005- Elite Models Philippines (later renamed Elite Models Manila)
  • 2005- Elite Models Indonesia
  • 2009- Elite Model London
  • 2009- Loft Models/Elite Models Lisbon
  • 2011- Elite Models Shanghai
  • 2013- The Society Management
  • 2016- Elite Models Nigeria (elitemodel.com.ng)
  • Elite Models Tokyo
  • Elite Models South Africa (defunct as of 2012)
  • Elite Models Australia
  • Elite Models Stockholm
  • Elite Models Brazil
  • Elite Models Toronto
  • Loft Models/Elite Models Lisbon
  • Elite Models Barcelona
  • Elite Models Iceland
  • Elite Models Morocco (defunct as of 2012)
  • Elite Models Algeria
  • Elite Models India
  • Elite Models Israel
  • Elite Models Bratislava
  • Elite Models Prague
  • Elite Models Chile
  • Elite Models Ho Chi Minh
  • Options Models- Zurich
  • Elite Models Madrid (defunct)
  • Elite Models Vienna
  • Elite Models Amsterdam
  • Elite Models Tehran
  • References

    Elite Model Management Wikipedia