Friday, May 8, 2009

Battle for KENDRA SPEARS!!

A catwalk catfight has broken out between rival modeling agencies over a leggy stunner who's billed as "the next Cindy Crawford."

Ford Models is suing Next Management and model Kendra Spears, accusing the rival shop of poaching the "All-American beauty" who last year was a finalist in Ford's Supermodel of the World competition.

"Kendra Spears is one of the shining stars of the Ford development system," the suit says. "Signed as a prospect while still a teenager in braces, for more than a year, Ford has painstakingly cultivated Spears - literally, taught her how to be an international fashion model."

The suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, accuses Spears of breaching an exclusive contract with Ford so the "huge and important talent" could follow three other lovelies who jumped ship to Next in recent months.

Spears, a 20-year-old Seattle college student, has modeled for Gucci and Hermes following her splashy debut in Ford's supermodel search. Her showing in the contest landed her a three-year deal with Ford, the agency that launched the careers of Christie Brinkley and Brooke Shields.

"She is a beautiful, fresh, all-American 'face' who, having been discovered by Ford, trained by Ford, and professionally developed by Ford, is at the precipice of a breakthrough," the suit says. "She is about to become one of a handful of the world's most sought-after high fashion models."

Before the 5 foot, 10-and-a-half inch beauty signed with Ford, the suit cattily claims, she was little more than raw talent.

"She was not a high-fashion model," the suit says. "In fact, she was an unknown - a teenager with braces, with no modeling experience to speak of."

The agency pats itself on the back for transforming the teen into a supermodel-in-waiting who's already graced runways in Milan, modeled bikinis for Calvin Klein and appeared on the cover of Vogue Italia.

"Ford literally taught Spears how to walk a catwalk [an advanced skill requiring dedicated coaching]," the suit says.

The blowup over Spears is the latest battle in an ugly feud between Ford and Next.

Ford charges that, in the last 10 months, Next has poached three of its models and two of its bookers. Ford filed suit against Next over the earlier acquisitions last August and again in November.

A spokeswoman for Ford Models declined to comment, and a call to Next Management's Manhattan office was not returned.

The latest lawsuit, which seeks to stop Spears from getting out of her contract until December 2010, follows what is described in court papers as a "new and unrepentant attack on Ford's exclusive agreements."

In a January interview with the fashion blog, Spears described Ford as "like my family" and said she was "honored" to hear herself compared to Crawford.

"She's always been a role model for me," she said. "I love how she took her career in so many different directions."

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