Eileen Ford: I believe in plastic surgery
Eileen and Jerry’s daughter Katie, who is organizing Sunday’s celebration, sold the family company in 2007 to a syndicate of investors who are taking Ford in new directions. Last week Joanna Rodger invited their founder back to the company for an anniversary interview in which Eileen, forthright as ever, revealed her opinions on some controversial topics:
J.R.: Your family no longer owns the company, but nonetheless, I’ve observed a real desire under the new management to stay true to the Ford brand and heritage. What were some of your core values while building this company?
E.F.: Well first, we cared. We really, really cared, and that’s what made us good at what we did. Second, we were honest. That was so important. One time, there was a girl who wanted to leave us for another agency. She went to Jerry to let him know, and he told her, ‘Well, there’s nothing we can do about it if you want to go, but you might want to wait until after the New Year because you’ll lose a substantial bonus if you leave before then. You might as well cash out.’ That was just the way we operated, and I think people appreciated it. Oh also, I was very bossy. [Laughs]
J.R.: You also treated your models like family and groomed them, with hairstylists, nutritionists, and cultural lessons. What do you think of more extreme versions of cultivated beauty, like plastic surgery?
E.F.: Oh, I believe in plastic surgery. Absolutely. Why not look your best? You’re just more attractive when you feel good about your looks. But one thing I don’t understand: Everyone has such big lips these days.
J.R.: Lip injections.
E.F.: Well, they weren’t all born with the same size.
J.R.: You started a family and business at the very same time, in the mid-1940s when you had your first child, daughter Jamie. It was an era when most women didn’t even work. What were some obstacles that you faced, and how did you overcome them?
E.F.: There were obstacles, but it’s a lot to go into. I’ll tell you that what helped us was that we were very good-looking. When someone wanted to do a feature on a model agency, they chose us because we were an attractive couple. It helped a lot.
J.R.: When you started, did you ever envision where your business and the industry would go?
E.F.: No, we never did. I started the business because I needed to support Jamie! And it became our family, it really did. We just kept moving, and enjoyed ourselves very much.
For the full text of the feature, and a slideshow of modern Ford and Eileen Ford images, click on: http://www.fordmodelsfashion.com/daily-news/happy-birthday-eileen-ford/ - slide-1