Canadian Star Jessica Stam
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IMG Models is only one aspect of a larger IMG empire that represents Wimbledon, manages sports figures like Tiger Woods and Venus Williams, and owns Olympus Fashion Week. That really is just a drop in the bucket of what IMG does. Founded more than four decades ago, IMG has grown from a personal relationship with golfer Arnold Palmer into what its website describes as "the world's premier sports and lifestyle management and marketing firm."
Model management barely gets a mention on IMGworld website, but make no mistake - in the modelling world IMG is huge, and is immensely respected. With names like Daria Werbowy, Gisele Bundchen, Erin Wasson, Jessica Stam, Liya Kebede, Gemma Ward, Heidi Klum and Tasha Tilberg you have to know they're doing something different.
Sr. Vice President Ivan Bart explains the genesis of the powerhouse. "I was working at a different firm, and IMG tended to be very commercial - they didn't have many well known models. Then, all of a sudden Niki Taylor joined, and that was kind of like the shot heard around the world."
According to Ivan, Chuck Bennett's appointment to manage the modelling company was the precursor to greatness. Having spent most of his career with IMG's tennis division, Bennett understood the business structure required to create a superstar. "Here is somebody who knew how IMG operated, and took it to the modelling end. I believe the top models came because they saw if a career could be handled with a business structure it would change. "
Ivan joined IMG shortly after. "When I was hired I was coming from such a fashion viewpoint that THAT was going to be my contribution. The models I brought in, and the people I was working with - and I cannot take credit - but we, as a group found Guinevere Van Seenus. She was really one of the first models that I had managed here at IMG, and she was different from the type of models IMG had previously."
"She just loved to work with very special, artistic photographers. And with having a model like that, it changed the image of our company. Now everyone was saying 'Wow! Look at this career.'
"It attracted other girls like that and everything started to change. Eventually though, those models too, loved the business structure. They loved having quarterly meetings, and wanted to discuss what had happened in the last quarter. Where are we going in the next quarter? What are we doing? This is all the kind of stuff that we take very seriously and we like to be ahead of the curve.
"Something we hope to do is really extend the longevity of careers. Carolyn [Murphy] is in her 30's, Shalom [Harlow] is in her 30's, Michelle Hicks is in her 30's - a lot of our models that have been very successful are still very successful."