How IMG boss Ivan Bart masterminded the careers of the world’s BIGGEST catwalk stars – from Kate Moss to Tyra Banks – after pivoting away from career in PSYCHOLOGY… as his shock death at 60 rocks the fashion industry
- It was revealed on Monday that Ivan had passed away at age 60
- He helped launch the careers of some of the biggest supermodels on the planet
- The mogul was determined to make the industry more diverse and inclusive
The entire fashion world is mourning the loss of former IMG president Ivan Bart, who not only helped launch the careers of some of the biggest supermodels on the planet, but also dedicated much of his own career to making the beauty standards in the industry more inclusive.
It was revealed on Monday that Ivan had passed away at the age of 60 following an unspecified, short illness – and his shock death has left people all over the world devastated.
During his 30 incredible years at IMG, Ivan, who stepped down from his role as president in March, had an immense impact on the fashion industry.
It was his mission to make the modeling world more diverse and campaigns more relatable to young girls, and he was one of the first to start signing stars who didn’t necessarily fit the traditional height, weight, age, or race that had been set by the industry.
Former IMG president Ivan Bart helped launch the careers of some of the biggest supermodels on the planet, and was determined to make beauty standards in the industry more inclusive
Ivan, who hails from New York, once recalled feeling lost and ‘confused’ about what he wanted to do after he graduated college. He had originally pursued a degree in psychology, but quickly realized that ‘dealing with people’s pain every day’ was not for him.
He eventually found himself working as a publicist at a ‘very small’ modeling firm, but when one of his clients was turned away from a campaign due to her ethnicity, it sparked a fierce drive in him to want to make a difference.
Shocked and furious over her being axed over her skin color, Ivan – fresh out of college and brand new PR – ‘marched’ into the company’s office and ‘demanded’ that they book her.
It was revealed this morning that Ivan had passed away at the age of 60 following an unspecified, short illness. In the wake of his passing, FEMAIL recapped his inspirational journey from start to finish
It worked, and the previously ‘confused’ young man realized what his passion: ‘I had the power to make change from within.’
And Ivan did just that. He ‘quite literally changed the shape and face of the modeling industry,’ according to Mark Shapiro, the head of IMG’s parent company, Endeavor, who confirmed the fashion icon’s passing in an email sent to employees, which was obtained by Women’s Wear Daily.
‘It is with overwhelming sadness and deep regret that I share that Ivan Bart, long-time president of IMG Models and a trailblazer in the fashion industry, passed away over the weekend,’ he wrote.
‘His relentless pursuit for diversity and inclusion challenged fashion’s gatekeepers and created household names whose omnipresence has inspired generations.’
As the world comes to grips with Ivan’s passing, FEMAIL went ahead and recapped his inspirational journey from start to finish – from how he first landed his job at IMG to the immense strides that he took during his decades with the company in his attempts to change the fashion world.
The moment that started it all: Ivan repped a model named Marni Malinosky early in his career – and when she lost a job due to her ethnicity, he ‘marched into the office’ and ‘demanded’ they book her
Ivan (seen in 2010), from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, started his career out as a publicist at a ‘very small’ modeling firm
Ivan was raised in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and while his love of fashion was clear from the start, he actually dreamed of a psychologist as a child.
‘I really was very confused for a long time about what I wanted to do. I thought I wanted to be a psychologist, so I have a psych degree,’ he explained to Interview Magazine in 2013.
‘Then I took time off to try to figure it out, and I did what a lot of people did, got a backpack and toured Europe for a while.
‘I realized I didn’t want to be in clinical psychology. I didn’t want to deal with people’s pain every day. I wanted to be in something that was a little bit more lively, exciting, fun.’
In 1986, he started working as a publicist for a ‘very small modeling firm,’ where he represented a budding new star named Marni Malinosky.
Soon after he got the job, Ivan was left furious when Marni – who has ‘African-American and Russian roots’ – was turned away from a campaign because of her ethnicity.
Determined to prove that his client was perfect for the ad, Ivan, fresh out of college and brand new to the industry, recalled ‘marching into the brand’s offices’ and ‘demanding’ they look at a ‘presentation’ he had prepared with all of her best work.
When one of his clients, named Marni Malinosky (seen recently), lost a job due to her ethnicity, Ivan ‘marched into the office’ and ‘demanded’ they book her
Marni ended up booking the shoot, and while this was miniscule in comparison to the immense changes that Ivan would go on to make in the modeling world, it was a powerful victory that opened his eyes to what he could do if he set his mind to it.
It was certainly a turning point in the his career – and a moment that would stick with him for decades to come.
‘She was the most stunning woman I had ever met. A brand called and I really couldn’t think of anyone stronger than her for the opportunity, but they said no,’ he said of the situation to The Cut.
‘I asked, “Why not?” They answered, “We’re not considering black women.” This was 1987 and the Civil Rights Act had been passed more than 20 years earlier.
‘I was in shock and disbelief – and I was mad. I gathered her best materials – portfolio, press clippings, and VHS – and I marched to their offices to demand a presentation.
‘Marni got that job. I knew I had to sell to win, and aside from peaceful protests, I had the power to make change from within.’
Transforming IMG: After joining that agency in 1994, Ivan used his fierce determination and knack for ‘developing young talent’ to help launch the careers of some of the biggest names in fashion
Ivan has helped launch the careers of some of the biggest names in fashion. He’s seen with Devon Windsor, Nadine Leopold, Jillian Mercado, Caroline Lowe, and Ping Hue
Ivan has worked with Lily Aldridge, Hailey Bieber, Miranda Kerr, Chanel Iman, Martha Hunt, Taylor Hill, Gigi (left) and Bella Hadid, Kate Moss (center), Gisele Bündchen (right), and more
Ivan went on to work for a few different agencies like Wilhelmina and Ford after that, before he joined IMG in 1994 as the creative director.
The company had already signed a few successful stars, like Tyra Banks and Niki Taylor, but Ivan explained that it was ‘just starting its modeling division.’
He was determined to ‘build’ it into a booming ‘business’ – and he did just that.
One of the first stars that Ivan represented at IMG was supermodel Stephanie Seymour, who had already built a big name for herself in the industry when she joined forces with him.
While chatting with Interview, Ivan admitted that managing someone who was already so well known was a new feat for him and posed its challenges – but in the end, it only pushed him to work harder.
‘It was a very big challenge for me to take on her career. It was a big learning curve,’ Ivan said about working with Stephanie.
‘I want to thank Stephanie for really teaching me a lot about being an extraordinary manager.
‘She already had such a big career and was handled by many different people. So it was about finding a rhythm of working with a top talent.
Ivan became the director of the company in 2009, followed by the president five years after that. He’s seen left with model Amber Valletta and right with catwalk queen Shalom Harlow
‘We create careers, and a lot of our clients who have come through our door amassed tremendous wealth,’ Ivan (seen with model Caroline Winberg) once reflected
‘I think a lot of managers out there are young and don’t have a lot of life experience, so for me it was a privilege.’
While reflecting on her time with Ivan, Stephanie, who went on to become one of most successful models in the 90s, described Ivan to the New York Times as ‘a big thinker,’ adding, ‘He had ambition for the girls.
‘He was also incredibly personable. Someone you could trust, someone you could ask their opinion or tell a secret to.’
Thanks to his knack for ‘developing young talent,’ Ivan slowly worked his way up the ranks – becoming the director of the company in 2009, followed by the president five years after that.
During his time as the head of IMG, Ivan helped launch the careers of some of the biggest names in fashion, including Lily Aldridge, Hailey Bieber, Miranda Kerr, Chanel Iman, Martha Hunt, Taylor Hill, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kate Moss, and Gisele Bündchen.
Martha has credited Ivan and IMG with completely changing her life, telling the Times, ‘I went from doing catalog work to, overnight, walking for Prada and Chanel.’
‘We create careers, and a lot of our clients who have come through our door amassed tremendous wealth and taken care of their kids in a different way than they might have otherwise,’ Ivan once reflected to Fashion Week Daily.
‘Their kids now have better opportunities because of the work that these models did.’
Redefining the beauty standards in the fashion industry: Ivan made it his mission to make the modeling world more inclusive, signing a slew of stars that didn’t fit the traditional height, weight, age, or race
Ivan (seen in 2018) made it his mission to make the modeling world more diverse and campaigns more relatable to young girls
But Ivan’s talents weren’t limited to just finding young talent, as he’s also become well known for pushing the boundaries and redefining the beauty standards in the fashion industry.
Over the years, he signed numerous models that didn’t fit the traditional height, weight, age, or race that had previously been set by the industry, like transgender star Hari Nef, plus-size icon Ashley Graham, and Elon Musk’s mom Maye Musk, who joined the agency in 2016, when she was 68 years old.
He was one of the first to start signing stars who didn’t necessarily fit the traditional height, weight, age, or race that had been set by the industry, including plus-size model Ashley Graham
‘I truly understand that when kids open up their fashion magazine for the first time, what they see needs to reflect who they are,’ he once said.
Ivan told Elle in 2020 that he hoped that being inclusive and encouraging diversity would inspire others to follow suit.
‘The key is visibility,’ he shared. ‘Through fashion imagery we can effect social change. If you’re not seen in a campaign, if you’re not seen on the runway, you’re not seen.
‘I want to wrap my arms around the industry and help foster any conversation. I want to hear their stories.’
Ivan added that he tries to not only hire models that are of color, but also, the people who work behind the scenes too.
‘The key is to elevate black managers and creatives in the industry, because it’s not just the talent themselves, but it’s the people behind the camera,’ he continued.
‘When a model is on set, I think it’s important for them to see people with shared experiences, to see themselves.’
He also signed transgender model Hari Nef (left) and Elon Musk’s mom Maye Musk (right), who joined the agency in 2016, when she was 68 years old
Ivan stepped down as IMG’s president back in March, but stayed on as a senior adviser for the company. He’s seen last year
‘Being the president of an agency that sells beauty is a tricky thing in these times, when beauty is loaded with political meaning and values,’ former editor in chief at Allure magazine reflected to the Times earlier this year.
‘It requires a different vision and awareness. Ivan really pushed that, and pushed that in a forceful way.’
Ivan stepped down as IMG’s president back in March, but stayed on as a senior adviser for the company.
It’s now being overseen by Susan Plagemann, former chief business officer at Condé Nast.
Following his death, a plethora of supermodels took to Instagram to share their tributes honoring the mogul.
‘You were one of the most integral parts of my career, your impact has moved mountains and broken down so many walls for myself and so many others,’ Ashley wrote in her post.
‘You were such a champion of mine. I can’t thank you enough for the opportunities you have created for me, the time you invested in me, and the help you have given to navigate such a harsh industry.’
Gigi said, ‘Ivan. I don’t yet have words for this loss. I will never forget your spirit and hugs, your support and fight for others.
‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.. for everything. ‘Rest in peace, legend.’
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