John Casablancas, 70, the brash upstart who transformed the modeling business in the late 1970s when he founded the Elite agency and turned its young beauties — including Linda Evangelista, Gisele Bündchen and Naomi Campbell — into celebrities, died Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.
Casablancas, who lived in Miami, had cancer, said his executive assistant, Lorraine Caggiano. When Casablancas ventured into the modeling business in the early 1970s, the super-agents were Eileen Ford and Wilhemina Cooper, who took an old-school approach that included providing chaperones for their models and tucking them into bed at a reasonable hour. Casablancas challenged their domination in 1977 when he moved his operation from Europe to New York City with a very different approach to grooming young women for the runway and glossy fashion spreads.
“We gave them huge amounts of money, and we gave them names and personalities. We let them give interviews. Suddenly, they became a dream for the larger public. They became supermodels,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times in 2000.
Through the 1980s and ’90s, Casablancas’ vision gave Elite a coveted roster of talents who became household names and earned extravagant fees. Evangelista famously quipped that models at her level “don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.”
Casablancas later came to regret his role in turning models into superstars. In 2000, when he sold his share of Elite, he lashed out at the “spoilt troublemakers” he had made famous. “I hate them all,” he said, singling out Bündchen as “a monster of selfishness” and Heidi Klum as “a German sausage without talent.”
“One of my biggest regrets is that I created the supermodel,” he told the Sun-Times. “They can be impossible. Impossible.”
Marc Simont, 97, an award-winning children’s book illustrator whose drawings and watercolors brought poignancy and gentle wit to works by such well-known authors as Margaret Wise Brown, Ruth Krauss and James Thurber, died July 13 at his home in Cornwall, Conn., after a short illness. His death was confirmed by his son, Marc Dalton “Doc” Simont.
A French-born artist who immigrated to the United States as a child, Simont illustrated more than 100 books, including “A Tree Is Nice” (1955) by Janice May Udry, which won a Caldecott Medal, one of the highest honors in children’s literature.
Also an author, he both wrote and illustrated several books, including “The Stray Dog” (2000), an amusing tale based on a story by Reiko Sassa about a dog that wanders into a family picnic. That book brought Simont, at 87, his second Caldecott Honor, the award given to runners-up for the Caldecott Medal. He had received his first Honor award half a century earlier for Krauss’ “The Happy Day” (1949). “So many people have said to me, ‘I did my first book with Marc Simont.’ He had so many titles with so many editors and publishers,” said Kate Jackson, editor-in-chief at HarperCollins, which published “The Stray Dog” in 2000. “He was a beloved member of the children’s book world.”