July 14th, 2009 | Janelle
Every model knows there is nothing more important than having a convenient place to go in between castings. When you’re far from the agency (or even just your apartment) a safe area to check emails, get a snack or even just change out of those sky high heels, is more than welcome. With the opening of the brand new Model Lounge, a safe haven is even closer than ever.
But just what is Model Lounge exactly? Think of it as an all access club for models only (ladies only, sorry guys!). Centered in New York’s famed restaurant Delicatessen in SoHo and sponsored by California sportswear label Vans, Model Lounge offers a space where models can go to unwind in between castings and shows. In addition to free Internet access and food, the girls can also pick up goodies each week from Vans’ hip girls line; not to mention the added bonus of access with the special discount cards that provide 15% off at NYC mainstays like Intermix and more. MDC talks to the Model Lounge creator Bernard Smith and Vans’ Maria Boschetti to find out more.
Model Lounge’s creator/partner Bernard Smith and partner Ben Garcia.
MDC: How you come up with the idea for Model Lounge?
BERNARD SMITH: My girlfriend is a model with Next and just seeing her daily schedule helped me understand that these girls need something to do in between castings. Obviously Ben’s background played a role tooÂ – he’s worked at Wilhelmina and with Steven Klein so he has a great deal of knowledge about the industry.
MDC: How did you get so many big names involved in this project?
BERNARD SMITH:Â From day one there were people interested in participating. With Vans Girls being a new category they were very interested and Delicatessen was one of the first place we had in mind. They have this amazing space here that wasn’t being utilized during the day so it really just came together perfectly.
MDC: What makes the Model Lounge such a resource for the girls?
BERNARD SMITH: There are so many reasons why it’s useful and the agencies understand that. When girls live in Brooklyn or New Jersey, going back to their apartment can be a hassle or it can cause them to be late and miss their call time. Prior to this there weren’t that many places where a girl could go during the day to just take a breather. Many of the girls live in Soho, a lot of the agencies and photo studios are in Soho too so this is a great centralized location.
MDC: We know there are a lot of really cool freebies for the girls – how often does the merchandise change?
BERNARD SMITH: We’re two and a half weeks in and by now each girl has two pairs of sneakers, two bags, hats, jeans – the merchandise rotates quite frequently to be very honest. We tell girls that you never know what to expect at the Model Lounge. One day we might have new watches, the next day new sneakers – so really and truly it’s in their best interest to come by as often as possible.
AtauiÂ (green dress) and Damaris Lewis (pink top) with some fellow beauties at the quiet back lounge.
MDC: How does teaming up with something like Model Lounge get the word out about the Vans brand?
MARIA BOSCHETTI: Personally, I was really excited because right off the bat I saw the girls wearing the pink sneakers from the first week. Walking down the street just now we saw a couple girls in the black pair from this week and that is exactly what I wanted to see. Not many people know we make high tops like this or that we have have a full line of girls apparel. When you see a beautiful girl on the street with our pink high top sneakers it raises awareness of us and it’s really great for a brand.
MDC: What is up next for Model Lounge?
BERNARD SMITH: The idea is to go from here to Miami and potentially L.A. to do them simultaneously. It’s natural to start here though since it’s the mecca of fashion. We’re also going to have all access vehicles during (September’s) Fashion Week to take the girls to and from the shows and we’re really excited about that.
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