Fashion Icons of the 1970s – Famous Models of the 1970’s April 19 2022
Model agency mogul Eileen Ford of Ford Models died earlier this month at the age of 92—without a doubt, this woman (who founded her modeling agency with husband Jerry Ford in 1946) was the force behind decades of cover models, and many of the standards of beauty that have spanned the years.
By the 1970s, female fashion icons, were some to the top models of the time, or what we term today as “supermodels”—and Ford Models was behind many of the faces that became a household name. Beverly Johnson—really one of the most beautiful models ever in my opinion—is just one example. Although, to be fair, she signed with Ford, then left for Wilhemina Models when Eileen Ford told her she would never be on the cover of Vogue (and then came back to Ford Models once she had).
When Beverly Johnson first starter her career, she was met with all sorts of setbacks—agency after agency rejected her, until Ford Models decided she had potential. After she was told she would never make the cover of Vogue, Johnson left for Wilhemina Models and did just that in 1974, becoming the first African American to receive that honor. After she went back to Eileen Ford with that cover under her belt, Eileen took her success and ran with it—over the course of her career, Johnson was in over 500 magazines, and did runway shows for Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren, and many others.
Cheryl Tiegs, famous fashion icon of the 70s, was another well-known Ford model of the time. The quintessential California girl, Tiegs became well-known for her swimsuit work, but she started out at age sixteen, working for department stores for $25 a day. She got her first major campaign for a swimsuit ad when she was seventeen.
When 1970s fashion model Jerry Hall was sixteen, she bought a one-way ticket to France, reportedly spent the last of her money on a pink metallic crochet bikini and a pair of heels, and made her way to the St. Tropez beach—where she was discovered by photographer Jacques Silberstein. In 1974 Hall left Paris for New York, convinced to do so by none other than Eileen Ford (but it definitely paid off, because she soon landed a cover shoot for the cover of Vogue). (Sidenote: yes, I have read that Eileen Ford could be controversial, and yes modeling is a tough business in so many aspects of our social culture…but I bet Eileen Ford could convince anyone of anything had some great stories to show for it.)