NEW YORK CITY — The high-powered Ford Models Inc. is suing a rival agency for allegedly poaching its top talent.
Supermodel Alana Zimmer and catwalker Karolina Waz broke their exclusive three-year contracts with Ford to jump ship to Men Women N.Y. Model Management, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Ford accuses Men Women of dipping into its model pool because the rival firm couldn't cultivate a stable of beauties on its own.
"Unable to compete with Ford fairly in the marketplace yet bent on generating business any way it can, [Men Women] has lured two top models, Alana Zimmer and Karolina Waz, from Ford, knowing they are under exclusive, binding contracts with Ford," the lawsuit says.
Ford inked a deal with Zimmer, 25, in 2010. The agency describes the Canadian-born covergirl as a "sought-after beauty" who has appeared in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and W magazine, and sashayed at runway shows for Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Furstenberg and Giorgio Armani.
Ford invested heavily in promoting the 5-foot-11 Zimmer and helped her pick assignments that would boost her career, the lawsuit says. The agency said it did the same for the 5-foot-9 Waz, who signed with Ford in 2011 and has posed for Vogue and Elle magazines.
Ford claims that neither model expressed dissatisfaction with its representation. But it found out in August that Zimmer joined Men Women when the rival agency bragged in a tweet that it had represented her in a Vogue Japan photo shoot, the suit says. Soon after, Men Women announced on models.com that it was representing Waz as part of a fashion show package.
Ford claims in the suit that Men Women had induced both women to break their contacts. Their poaching was "designed to achieve indirectly what it could not achieve directly, namely finding its own talent, using its own staff and promoting its own models," the lawsuit says.
Men Women declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Ford is suing for at least $2 million. The agency also wants Men Women barred from interfering in its future contracts with models.