Bart, who died on Friday following a brief illness, is being remembered for championing diverse casting and inclusion in the modeling industry
Ivan Bart, former president of IMG Models, has died. He was 60.
The news of his death was announced on Bart's Instagram account on Sunday with a black-and-white photo of him captioned, "Our world has lost one of the greats. Ivan Bart, 1963-2023."
According to Women's Wear Daily, Bart died Friday following a brief illness.
“It is with overwhelming sadness and deep regret that I share that Ivan Bart, longtime president of IMG Models and a trailblazer in the fashion industry, passed away over the weekend,” Mark Shapiro, president and chief operating officer of Endeavor, which owns IMG Models, said in an email to employees, per the outlet.
Over his 30-year career, Bart left an indelible mark on the modeling industry, helping to launch the careers of such iconic names as Lauren Hutton, Kate Moss, Stephanie Seymore, Hailey Bieber, Gigi Hadid, Ashley Graham, Gisele Bündchen and Tyra Banks.
Bart, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., began his career working for a public relations firm that happened to have a small modeling agency attached to it, giving him a window into the industry. He joined IMG in 1994 as creative director, and worked his way up the ranks before being named president in 2014 after the company merged with WME. Four years later, he assumed oversight of all of IMG's global fashion events including New York Fashion Week.
Bart famously championed diverse casting and inclusion, and was also an outspoken supporter of plus-size models.
“During the course of three decades at IMG Models, Ivan quite literally changed the shape and face of the modeling industry from within," Shapiro's email continued. "His relentless pursuit for diversity and inclusion challenged fashion’s gatekeepers and created household names whose omnipresence has inspired generations."
In his message, Shapiro recounted once sitting next to Bart at a table with Victoria's Secret's former management team and politely insisting that they expand their annual television special to include a more diverse cast of models in terms of size, age, race and background.
"He was the voice before there was a voice. He was courageous. He saw beauty in all its forms," Shapiro wrote of Bart.
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The late modeling executive also embraced the power of social media in amplifying a model's career and giving them a voice. “He knew innately that a picture was worth a thousand words, and the images he helped create became a necessary catalyst for social change,” Shapiro wrote.
Bart stepped down from his role as president in March, becoming a senior advisor at the agency.
Following the news of Bart's death, many of the talented models whose careers he helped nurture paid tribute. Bieber, 26, commented on the post on Bart's page, "Love you Ivan. 💔💔💔."
Cindy Crawford wrote, "Oh no! Sorry to hear this sad news 💔."
Naomi Campbell said she was "shocked and saddened" by Bart's death. "You were such a positive force, and loyal friend," she wrote. "You will be so missed .. my deepest condolences to your family and loved ones and chosen family 🕊️💔🕊️🙏🏾."
Celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe also left a condolence message. "I am at a loss, my heart is broken. I have known and loved Ivan since the day I started in the industry. We have lost the best of the best ..one of one 🕊️🙏🏻😞."
Graham, 36, shared a lengthy message on her Instagram Story, saying she was "still processing" the sad news about Bart. "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," she wrote.
"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," she added. "A storyteller, an icon, a problem solver, a forever friend. I miss you so much already and I love you forever, Ivan."
Hadid, 28, also remembered Bart with a post on her Instagram story, calling him "forever my boss."
"Ivan. I don't have words yet for this loss," she wrote. "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."
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) hailed Bart as "a trailblazer who championed a better industry and a voice for greater representation" in an Instagram tribute on Monday.
“Ivan was a close friend of the CFDA and worked with us on New York Fashion Week, the CFDA Initiative for Health, Safety, and Inclusion, and other CFDA efforts,” CFDA CEO Steven Kolb said. “The CFDA is committed to honoring and pursuing the principles Ivan believed. We send our deepest condolences to his family and all those who loved him.”
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