What Happens At Modellounge: Dance Central, Catwalk Class, And More!

Models hang out and relax in Bernard Smith’s Modellounge.
Photo: Courtesy of Modellounge X Microsoft

Is it too early in the week to play a little word association? *pauses for response* Am I still going to try it even if you object because I can’t actually hear you over the whirr of my desktop computer? YUP! *prepares to shove ice-breaker game down readers’ throats* What do you picture when you think of models off-duty? Is it street style shots of loping gazelles of women walking expertly on stiletto Louboutins across cobble stone streets? Seemingly impossible cheekbones hovering over effortless high fashion ensembles? While that’s still all pretty true, there’s a totally other side that we don’t typically get to see — models just being regular girls, hanging out, practicing their walks, and playing video games and stuff — and there’s actually a place in NYC where all that off-off duty action goes down: Modellounge X Microsoft.

Liu Wen and Jourdan Dunn hang out at Modellounge.
Photo: Courtesy of Modellounge X Microsoft

Modellounge is, well, exactly what it sounds like — a lounge for models — but more specifically, it’s a kind of safe haven, a place where they can just unwind and be human, hang out without always having to be “on.” The only people with access to Modellounge are female models from the top ten agencies (like Liu Wen, Jourdan Dunn, and sooooo many more) meaning no guests, no bookers, and no male models. Just an elite tier of lady models and the lounge staff, but earlier this week, we got a grand tour of the elusive model hotspot thanks to founder Bernard Smith!

Models play Xbox Kinect games at Modellounge.
Photo: Courtesy of Modellounge X Microsoft

The instant I passed through the Modellounge doors, I was greeted by the sight of two supremely gorgeous women *drumrollll* playing Xbox Kinect. More specifically, they were jumping, twirling, and perhaps even “Gangnam Style“-ing to what looked like Dance Central. WHAT. It was AWESOME, to say the very least. Pan out to the actual lounge area and there are more models hanging out on leather couches, checking Facebook, texting, chatting, eating lunch, looking up directions to their next appointment. Walk a little further in, and you see their Helmut Lang New York Fashion Week closet where models can borrow clothes for 24-hour periods. ADFDKLFJAHGKL WANT.

Modellounge’s Helmut Lang NYFW closet.
Photo: Courtesy of Modellounge

The concept is brilliant — what girl doesn’t want all of these things? And yet Modellounge is still relatively new. We asked Smith about the inspiration and origin story for the NYC model sanctuary, and he explained candidly that it stemmed from conversations with his girlfriend (and, you know, our best and House of Style co-host) Joan Smalls who first introduced us to Bernard, “Just realizing girls didn’t have a place to go in between appointments. Say they have an appointment at 11 a.m., and the next one isn’t until 1 p.m. It doesn’t make sense to go back home, so they go to Starbucks, but they would often complain about being harassed by promoters or photographers.” To which we added, when was the last time you found a table at Starbucks without stalking it first?? (We can’t remember a time, so if you can, please let us know the location via email. *WINK*) The idea proved to be a fantastic one and caught on rapidly.

Joan Smalls and Karlie Kloss hang out at Modellounge.
Photo: Courtesy of Modellounge X Microsoft

“I remember when it started in a small room in Soho, just to provide girls with a safe place between castings,” Smalls said, “Now, we have access to luxury clothing brands, workshops with Vogue’s Valerie Boster and a really fun and resourceful place where we can all congregate between shows and appointments.” Sure, she’s the muse behind the Modellounge, but it’s successful because her concerns were valid ones shared by so much of the model community. Karlie Kloss (our other HOS leading lady!) added, “Modellounge is creating a healthy and supportive environment where someone can come in and feel a a part of the community and take place in all the great things they have going on. The lounge looks amazing, and the story behind it is genius.” DAWWWwww, can’t you just see Joan and Karlie meeting there, sharing nail polish over stories about their days between castings?? *heart swells and explodes*

Catwalk class at Modellounge.
Photo: Courtesy of Modellounge X Microsoft

As both Karlie and Joan mentioned, on top of snacks and swag and rampant hangtime, Modellounge can be a huge resource for models. Of course, there’s the fashion closet, but Smith’s Modellounge puts together classes and presentations ranging from runway walking workshops to talks with casting directors and booking agents. Modellounge carves out a space where the ladies gracing every magazine we know and love can decompress, perfect their craft, and pick up some pretty sweet benefits along the way. Everything we saw, we loved. We just wish Bernard would create one we could get into! *cough cough* MTV Style Lounge 2014! *nudge nudge*

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