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Ford Models Turns Its Back on Canada

It's been home to some of the country's finest and fairest faces, but after almost 18 years in their Toronto offices, Ford Models will be pulling out of Canada by the end of January.

Elmer Olsen of Elmer Olsen Models Management has described the move as spurring a "feeding frenzy" to sign some of Toronto’s top talent. Talent that consisted of more than 250 women, men and plus-sized models, who all featured prominently throughout Toronto Fashion Week.

The Toronto agency was also once responsible for Cheryl Tiegs and Christie Brinkley — both of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition fame — as well as a young, pre-fame Malin Akerman, the Swedish-Canadian actress who played the kick-ass femme fatale Silk Spectre II in the 2009 movie Watchmen.

"It’s sad because Ford is a very reputable name and we were very excited when they came to Canada and brought that powerhouse name to our industry. It was an asset to the Canadian fashion industry," Olsen told the Toronto Star. "There will be a feeding frenzy."

Meanwhile, Ann Sutherland, president at Sutherland Models, also told the Toronto Star she was surprised to hear the news, but moved quickly to sign five new clients Tuesday as the word spread. "These are good models and these are good agents. It’s a little bit surprising that it would happen," Sutherland said. "Our phones are ringing off the hook." 

Talking heads at Ford’s Toronto operation have yet to elaborate on why the Manhattan-based agency decided to shutter its only Canadian office, merely describing the move as a decision from New York given that Toronto was its smallest market (the agency also holds offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Brazil).

"Toronto is amazing for a starting market, for a new girl to get started to do shows, to learn the ropes of being backstage, and learning to walk a runway and being in hair and makeup," Olsen said. "It’s an amazing, amazing grooming ground, but it’s small, small potatoes compared to Paris and New York."

The news comes not long after Toronto Fashion Week was bought by global event management firm IMG, which gave Canadian fashionistas hope of being elevated to a brighter, international limelight. Now this latest blow can only mean that some of our best talent will be looking across the border for better opportunities and bidding au revoir to a Canadian fashion industry that's more often viewed as America's slightly modish hat.

Image via Ford Models