He was also, as the magazine WWD pointed out, an outspoken voice in favor of broadening beauty standards to include those of all sizes, ages, races, physical ability and gender. “In order to be effective in the business, you have to be aligned with the culture,’” said Kyle Hagler, a former IMG executive who now heads No Smoking, an independent modeling and talent agency. “Ivan celebrated diversity, but he was also smart about it.”
That is, Mr. Hagler continued, Mr. Bart could afford to take fliers on talents like Maye Musk, Elon Musk’s mother, now in her 70s or the plus-size model Paloma Elsesser or the transgender model and actress Hari Nef, in part, because IMG’s earnings were bolstered by scores of successful models more closely aligned with conventional beauty stereotypes. “He understood that this business has a way of discarding the thing that it currently celebrates, and you have to plan for that,” Mr. Hagler said.
Yet it was not merely the bottom line that fueled his passion for the business and the talents it relies on, according to those who knew him. “I think what stood out is his humanity in a business that doesn’t show too much humanity,” said the designer Stan Herman, a former president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and, at 95, fashion’s elder statesman. Mr. Herman’s view was echoed by that of Steven Kolb, the current head of the CFDA.
“Success is driven by money, but Ivan was that voice you need — a noncorporate guy in a corporate environment,” Mr. Kolb said. “Most people looking at a Gigi or a Bella or a Paloma or any of those girls see a pretty face.” Mr. Bart, on the other hand, who was actively involved with CFDA’s health, safety and diversity initiative from its inception, thought of models as “something more than a commodity,” Mr. Kolb said.
“He fought for things like diet and nutrition, privacy backstage, how models are paid, how their hours are clocked. People overuse the word family in the corporate world, but he did see the models as family.”
Overwhelmingly, it seemed, his industry concurred. As news of his death spread this week, Instagram was flooded with expressions of grief and broken heart emojis posted by top models like Ashley Graham, Shalom Harlow and Anouck Lepère; photographers including Mario Sorrenti, Vinoodh Matadin, Inez van Lamsweerde and Alex von Bismarck; and the designer Marc Jacobs.