It takes a certain level of humanity to see someone’s truth, and even more to recognize their promise, but to bring someone’s potential to fruition, it takes a dream maker. To many, this is what the late, beloved President of IMG Models, Ivan Bart, embodied. He was a catalytic mentor, an intense force that came into people’s lives and changed them for the better. From the models he took a chance on to the young magazine readers seeing their likeness celebrated on a cover, the 29 years of Bart’s influence at IMG expanded an entire industry’s understanding of beauty.
His incomparable eye for talent uncovered a generation of stars that have become household names including the likes of Gigi and Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber, Karli Kloss, Carolyn Murphy, Ashley Graham, Gisele Bündchen, Tyra Banks, and many more. With his advocacy for true inclusion throughout every facet of the industry, his tenure at IMG helped propel the careers of names such as Alek Wek—whose visibility Lupita Nyong’o credited with making her feel confident in her own skin—Hari Nef, Precious Lee, Zach Miko, Quannah Chasinghorse and Paloma Elsesser. In Bart’s world, models of all sizes, ages, races, physical abilities, and gender deserved their moment in the spotlight, many of whom we were fortunate enough to feature in the pages of V.
As the New York Times put it in their obituary, Bart was “an early champion of diversity and inclusion and a canny marketer with a gift for anticipating shifts in the overall cultural mood.” He was a tastemaking titan and a passionate proselytizer, as nothing excited him more than the present state of fashion and how he could contribute to its more inclusive future. In his own radically simple words: “I’m beginning to like the word ‘inclusive’ more than ‘diverse.’ Isn’t that what we’re really trying to achieve? A sense of inclusion? The heart-pounding feeling that we all belong. That we all have a right to be here.”
The Ivan Bart Memorial Scholarship Fund at FIT will be accepting applicants in 2024.
This story appears in the pages of V146: hitting newsstands January 12th!