How Ivan Bart Changed the Modeling Industry

On the April cover of British Vogue, three models wearing dresses that hug their hourglass figures are described by three words: “The New Supers.”

Those models — Jill Kortleve, Precious Lee and Paloma Elsesser — are represented by IMG Models, an agency that also represents Gigi and Bella Hadid. The models on the cover of British Vogue, all of whose careers may have once been hindered because they are not size zero, represent the agency’s efforts to redefine who a supermodel can be.

Ivan Bart, 59, the president of IMG Models, has been an important part of those efforts. On Friday, he left that position for a role as senior adviser at IMG, according to a news release sent by its parent company, Endeavor.

“Ivan has quite literally changed the shape and face of the modeling industry,” Mark Shapiro, the president of Endeavor, wrote in a statement to The New York Times. “We are honored that we will still continue to benefit from his vision in this next chapter.”

Mr. Bart, who has worked at IMG Models for three decades, will not be replaced by another president. His departure is part of a series of organizational changes at Endeavor, which last year hired Susan Plagemann, a former chief business officer at Condé Nast, to run a newly formed division called WME Fashion. IMG Models, now part of that division, will be led by Jeni Rose and Kate Stirling.

Mr. Bart said that as part of his new role, he will continue to identify new models. “I want to keep finding great talent,” he said.

More models these days can be short or curvy or middle-aged, and they can emerge from social media or reality television. Scouting talent has always been a part of the business, but when Mr. Bart came to IMG from Ford Models as an agent, in 1994, the industry was less inclusive.

In his early years at the agency, Mr. Bart worked with some of the most sought-after models at the time, including Carolyn Murphy and Stephanie Seymour. Though Mr. Bart was young, he was “a big thinker,” Ms. Seymour said. “He had ambition for the girls.”

“He was also incredibly personable,” she added. “Someone you could trust, someone you could ask their opinion or tell a secret to.”

Kyle Hagler, who worked at IMG Models from 1996 to 2014, said that Mr. Bart also took an interest in progressive causes within the industry. Mr. Hagler recalled how Mr. Bart attended a 2007 news conference hosted by Bethann Hardison, a former model and an agent, to call attention to the lack of racial diversity on runways and in advertising.

Ms. Hardison, who has also worked as a casting director, described Mr. Bart as “someone who always cared about the issues that I cared about.”

In 2009, Chuck Bennett, then the president of IMG Models, left the agency. Mr. Bart was named its director, essentially replacing Mr. Bennett.

The model Martha Hunt, who had mostly posed for catalogs when she was introduced to Mr. Bart in 2012, said that meeting with him changed everything for her. “I went from doing catalog work to, overnight, walking for Prada and Chanel,” Ms. Hunt said.

When IMG Models signed Gigi Hadid, in 2012, she was arguably best known for appearing on TV alongside her mother, who was then a star of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” Mr. Bart made some of her early introductions to fashion world players, including the editor Carine Roitfeld, whose magazine CR Fashion Book featured Gigi Hadid in 2014.

Mr. Bart was named president of IMG Models in 2014, after the agency was acquired by the entertainment conglomerate that owns WME. That year, after the closure of the plus-size division at Ford Models, IMG signed Ashley Graham and other plus-size models who had been dropped by Ford.

In 2017, Ms. Graham became the first plus-size model to appear on the covers of British Vogue and American Vogue. In 2018, she became a face of Revlon.

“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,” said Linda Wells, a former editor in chief of Allure, who was the chief creative officer at Revlon when the brand signed the deal with Ms. Graham. “It requires a different vision and awareness. Ivan really pushed that, and pushed that in a forceful way.”

Mr. Bart further expanded the notion of who can be a model by supporting the careers of transgender models such as Hari Nef, who signed with IMG in 2015, and of Maye Musk, the mother of Elon Musk, who was 68 when she signed with the agency in 2016. Mr. Bart also gave his stamp of approval to Ella Emhoff, the stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris, who signed with the agency a week after she attended President Biden’s inauguration in 2021.

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