New York modelling spat turns ugly
A row between two of New York"s biggest modelling agencies has turned ugly and ended up in court with each accusing the other of stealing their best girls.
Tom Leonard in New York
Published: 8:17PM BST 21 May 2010
Next Management has sued Ford Models for allegedly poaching three of its East European stars, including Anna Jagodzinska, a Vogue cover girl regarded as one of the world"s top 10 models.
Next"s sense of injustice in papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court matches that of Ford in three earlier legal actions, alleging the same offence –this time involving Danish, Brazilian and American models - against its accuser.
"Ford, which is no longer owned by the Ford family, has been taken over by Russian nationals who totally ignore the American legal system" with a "campaign to raid Next"s businesses", said Next in its court filing.
It claims that Joel Wilkenfeld, Next"s president, had personally applied to the US Immigration and Naturalisation Service to allow Jagodzinksa, her fellow Pole Anna Cywinska and Karmen Pedaru, an Estonian, to work in America. The agency claims the trio were still under contract to Next when they defected.
Next has accused another East European, Agneiszka Ponarski, one of its former bookers, of ignoring a non-compete clause in her contract by starting to work for Ford and poaching the models while still based in Next"s Manhattan offices.
"These are top models that Ford has stolen. This is an outrage," Elizabeth Eilender, a lawyer for Next, said.In the most recent, and still pending, lawsuit filed by Ford, it accused Next of illegally poaching Kendra Spears, a rising catwalk star to whom it referred in court papers as "an all-American beauty who many have described as the "the next Cindy Crawford"".
Next is seeking unspecified damages for conduct it claims has caused "great financial harm". It also wants Ford to "cease and desist acting illegally and improperly by enticing and luring models under written contract and being represented by Next to switch to Ford".