In memory: John Casablancas


This weekend we were saddened to hear of the death of the legendary John Casablancas from cancer, a true innovator whose revolutionary ideas have had lasting effect on the entire business. As the founder of Elite Models Casablancas revolutionized the modeling world by introducing sex appeal and ushering in the age of the supermodels. The list of modeling icons who began at Elite under Casablanca’s direction speaks for itself; Gisele Bundchen, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Stephanie Seymour, Claudia Schiffer and many more.  In addition to being one of the foremost champions of the supermodels, Casablancas was a unique public figure who became a star in his own right as one of the most visible spokespeople for the modeling industry. 

When asked about his legacy in one of his final interviews, Casablancas simply stated:

“I feel it’s rather presumptuous to speak about legacy in a profession such as model agent! But, if I have to mention what I think I brought to the business, I would say that I was creative, that I refused to bend to the rules established by a small group of fashionista dictators, that throughout my career I imposed a beautiful, healthy, natural woman with a sensual body (which does not preclude an elegant line), and a playful or intriguing personality, and I endeavored to live a life that reminded everyone that, even when you run your business professionally, fashion should be about fun, superficiality and sensuality, and not to be taken as seriously as some tend to do.” 

  1. May your soul rest in peace John. Fashion is so boring this days. Iam glad at such young age i witnessed the supermodels…Thank you John, coz you were 101% involved behind the legends!!! I expect Linda and many more to say something in here. Without John what would shape their lives? – imposed a beautiful, healthy, natural woman with a sensual body- Whata Quote, so true…What we see today those 0zeros and racks on the runway is so dull and boring. Simply boring. If i was buyng 20-30magazines round 2004,2005 now i buy just 1 a year…Whos your favorite model this days??? Anyone expect Edie Cambell from the new generation who shines?? At least,thanks to this man i know who Gisele, Linda, Stephanie, Claudia, Naomi are.They still shine…Thank You John RIP We need someone like you to reshift and re shape this boring industry…

  2. My God….It’s been years since I have seen John or even spoken to him. The news of his passing has reminded me of my own mortality and how important it is to live each day as if it is our last – it is truly all we really have.
    I cannot say we were ever friends – nor that I agreed with his business philosophy – but I did respect John for his tenacity – ingenuity – and success. He certainly, in some way, inspired my own ambition and career. Wishing you a safe journey home John.

  3. Sad news. John was an icon in this business. He was smart, savvy, charismatic and an astute businessman.He made you feel like you were the most important person in the room. He was also a loving and caring father and husband. My heart goes out to Aline and his children.
    He scouted me when I was 15 and I went on to become the first girl from Calgary to be on the cover of Vogue UK.Even though I left Elite early on in my career, John will always have a special place in my heart as the man who changed my life path that windy day in Calgary when he literally bumped into me at the local mall.
    He will be sorely missed.

  4. I was very surprise with the death of JHON CASABLANCAS he did change the modeling world giving us the best super models the world had to offered such us LINDA EVANGELISTA my favorite, working for his company was a wonderful experiencie that until these day I used all his advise into my life now that I have my own my modeling agency, rest in peace my friend. sincerelly PEDRO FEDORA, BOLIVIA SOUTH AMERICA.

  5. A true iconic model manager and inovator who inspired me to become an agent. May you R.I.P.!

  6. As British Daily Mail reports, non of the supermodels paid tribute. Only Allesandra, Bravo Ale! Respecting your own roots! Iam huge fan of Linda Evangelista…To not pay tribute to the man who helped you be who youare, shame… Hey noone is perfect neither he was. But someone dines in Indochine today thanks to the bookings he created for them 25years ago…RIP JOhn

  7. He was amazing !! and I feel so fortunate to be able to have worked with him ..

    I am really , really sad !

  8. John Casablancas was the Steve Jobs of the Model Management Industry. There are all these ‘pop star’try hard, wannabee agency people that think that they can cut a girls hair or make some ridiculously “edgy and cool show package”and pretend that they are innovators…NAH, JC was the true innovator, he was the one that really changed and grew the business.
    No one has come close to building a Network like the Elite of old days, many have tried but failed. Unfortunately the Elite Network isn’t what it used to be, Elite NYC, the former King of the Ring is a shadow of its once glorious self, the organization is split but the legacy remains. THANK YOU JC for everything.

  9. terrible news, it was just the other day that i was reading his interview on here. about models in the industry then and now. this is so unreal.

  10. And sadly the wheel turns.

    Give it about 2 weeks, everyone in this industry will forget who he even was…As per usual.

  11. What a pity. Had the pleasure to meet him in person.
    Remember he told me that he felt extremely fortunate in life.
    Rest in peace John.

  12. I would have liked to know him, he would have given me work. Not like those starving that reject me in some agencies.

  13. Although I myself was demonized by John and some of his “fashionista” minions when he was the head of Elite…I always held the greatest respect for him as a visionary-a trailblazer in an industry that is saturated with shallow shells, who either through affectation or through the ignorance of those even less experienced and talented brown-nosing ladder climbers-are frighteningly somehow able to pass themselves off as “experts” and even more disturbingly-convince parents, models AND the genuinely talented-that they should follow these ignoramus asses advice…and yet, those who are the TTRUE visionaries, trailblazers, and talent-who dont go “FAAAAABBBUUULLOUUUSS” with the rest of the fakes and posers-and who call them out for what they truly are and the “experts” that they arent, are as John was, by those SUPERMODELS who owe their careers..and some-their lives to -DEMONIZED/OSTRACIZED and shunned by the bruised, small minded egg shell fragile egos of those who arent fit to shine their shoes….
    Although I didnt agree with some of John’s business and personal behaviors…and like him,
    had the audacity to call out those I had helped create into successful models and bit the hand that fed me-I will acknowledge that many trailblazers that came before him-Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, the Wright Brothers, Ford, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs-JOHN CASABLANCAS can never be replaced-can never be followed-because he was the one who gave the modern modeling industry-and ALL who owe their careers and success in it ( myself included ), the ELECTRICITY that made it exciting, he gave it and some ANGELS we all know of-the WINGS to take flight-the ENGINE that was the drive and the codes that defined what BEAUTY was ans IS. RIP JOHN and thank you for being the inspiration, at times the irritant-and the trailblazer that gave me the extra fire and inspiration to go on..even when my hands got bitten by those I worked so hard to create a better life for.