Modellounge NYC
Written by Ryan Elsman
Monday, 03 October 2011 15:47
Runway Shows - Model Q&A

Hidden beneath the quintessential Union square eatery The Coffee Shop lies a world where both men and women alike long to be in. Gorgeous girls frolic around at their leisure for hours on end, escaping from the stresses of the outside world. White, faux fur pillows line sleek, low lying couches atop a dark wood floor. A rich scent of grapefruit candles waft around a dimly lit lounge as one falls into the entrancing beat of the background music.

Yes it’s completely legal, and no you can’t get in, unless that is, you are a model.

This fantasy like-world is called Modellounge NYC. Modellounge NYC is an exclusive oasis for female models of the top ten New York agencies (all ranked by to go in between castings and appointments. The lounge is fully stocked with food (yes, they do feed the models), drinks, and goodies galore, offered free of charge to the models. Who needs to stop back at their apartment when Sony Viao laptops, wifi, and plasma TVs are at your ready disposal on the daily? Oh, and if it’s fashion week and you’re lucky, feel free to grab a gift bag and indulge in a complimentary Warren Tricomi massage.

Bernard Smith, the man behind this entrepreneurial vision, has become the Santa Claus, of the NYC modeling world. It’s a random Monday in September and in walks Joan Smalls – the face of David Yurman’s F/W11 campaign with her close friend Lui Wen – featured in both ck Calvin Klein and Dolce & Gabbana’s F/W11 campaign. Within minutes, Bernard has both girls suited up in Beats By Dre headphones and reminds them that the Toy Watches he previously gave them can be adjusted for free at the jewelry store Versani.

He turns to a new girl who has never been to the lounge and hands her a Modellounge VIP card (of course after confirming her booking agency). With her card, she has access to daily discounts everywhere from luxury retailer OAK to the Hudson Hotel on 58th. Chatter around the lounge is all about the fabulous runway class offered yesterday, naturally accompanied with free Charles David pumps, and designer Prabal Gurung talks to the models. As Bernard makes his way around the room, another model walks up to him, bidding him farewell with a double kiss, and thanking him for “being the best.” She grabs an iced, cold Smart Water and Nimble balance bar provided by Bernard’s staff and is off to her photo shoot, and a replacement water is placed in the ice bucket in a matter of seconds.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Bernard and get a peak inside his entrepreneurial vision


Scene B Seen: What was your inspiration behind the idea of "Modellounge"?

Bernard Smith: An ex-girlfriend was my inspiration.  She didn’t have a comfortable place to spend time between daily castings and appointments.  She would often frequent my office.  That said, I wanted to create a private place where models could retreat to between daily castings and appointments – and fashion week.

SBS: Can you give a brief history of where Modellounge was at its foundation to where it’s at today?

BS: We launched in June 2009 in very small and restricting spaces at Delicatessen in Soho (Prince St.) I think that Delicatessen was the perfect place to get our start.  Two year later, we have a much a larger space that also includes an additional space for occasional events... meanwhile the space is completely private and the location is central.  We’re a fully integrated property that offers more than I ever imagined upon inception, including unique modeling resources like runway classes, Q&A’s and more. We’re also in Miami at The Raleigh Hotel, though on a seasonal basis.

SBS: Where do you see the brand going in the future?

BS: International markets and territories, becoming even more of a comprehensive modeling resource.

SBS: What do you enjoy most about your job?

BS: I enjoy the fact that the sky’s the limit.

Word of Modellounge NYC is spreading like wildfire. Having established amazing partnerships, combined with undeniable drive and expert service, Bernard and his staff are able to deliver the girls a retreat to the likes of which are hard to find. The public would be refreshed to know how friendly the girls within the lounge are (models ARE humans too) and greatly appreciative of this amazing service. Whether it’s a quick stop in on their way to “catch a flight to Paris” or a late lunch break after eight castings in the morning – Modellounge NYC becomes the girls’ home away from home. And believe me, they are not complaining.

So guys, stake out the back room of The Coffee Shop and perhaps you can slip a model your number as she ascends from her oasis on her way to a casting. Ladies, throw on your stilettos and get some headshots taken – maybe one day too you can be a member of Modellounge. But until then, happy daydreaming!