Ford has accused Next of poaching the "All-American beauty", who was a finalist in its Supermodel of the World competition last year.
"Kendra Spears is one of the shining stars of the Ford development system. 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 New York Daily News quoted the suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, as saying.
The suit also accuses Spears of breaching an exclusive contract with Ford so that she could follow three other lovelies who jumped ship to Next in recent months.
The 20-year-old Seattle college student has modelled for Gucci and Hermes following her splashy debut in Ford's supermodel search. She bagged a three-year deal with Ford on the back of her showing in the contest.
"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. She is about to become one of a handful of the world''s most sought-after high fashion models," the suit says.
The court papers say that before signing the deal with Ford, the 5 foot, 10-and-a-half inch beauty was little more than raw talent. "She was not a high-fashion model. In fact, she was an unknown - a teenager with braces, with no modeling experience to speak of," the suit says.
"Ford literally taught Spears how to walk a catwalk (an advanced skill requiring dedicated coaching)," it adds. A spokeswoman for Ford Models declined to comment, and a call to Next Management''s Manhattan office was not returned.
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