Models Off the Runway

Andrea and Ines (Photo Maurice Pinzon)

By Maurice Pinzon
During Fashion Week in Bryant Park, there is a half-open tent next to the backstage entrance. It is a resting place where you find African-American men, many from Brooklyn, who are hired to haul boxes in and out of the fashion shows. But last Friday, an hour past noon in frigid temperatures, the men were someplace else, and the wobbly, beat-up chairs and heaters were available.

Andrea Stancu and Ines Crnokrak, two fashion models from Europe, ducked inside to take a cigarette break. And before their next show, the models chatted with this reporter about their lives off the runway.

Ms. Stancu, a Romanian model, said she liked doing the fashion shows in New York, but not when it is too cold, because, she explained, New Yorkers were less friendly. She recounted how she had to fight for a cab earlier in the week.

When she tried to hail a cab, Ms. Stancu said, ìI touched for the carî and shouted, ìThis car is mine!î to a man who wanted to get inside before her and her friends.

Ms. Stancu puffed on her cigarette in one hand and cradled her cell phone in the other as she laughed and told the story. ìThree girls with high heelsî chasing a cab, she said, with Ms. Crnokrak nodding in agreement.

In Ms. Stancuís opinion, New York men, especially the ìyounger ones,î seemed to be less courteous than men from the other major fashion show cities. The men in Italy, Ms. Stancu insisted, were the nicest and most courteous. But Ms. Crnokrak reminded her that the Italian men there often ìexpectedî them to accept an invitation to have coffee or a drink with them.

Ms. Stancu brushed away that concern. ìI know how to handle it,î she said, adding, ìIím married.î

Asked by this reporter how she juggled married life with her on-the-move job, Ms. Stancu said her husband was a bit jealous, but mostly ìsupportiveî of her career.

When Ms. Crnokrak was asked if she went to parties during Fashion Week, she responded, ìIím not really a party girl.î She described the parties as boring because most of the people were often drunk by the time she arrived. Ms. Crnokrak, on the other hand, does not drink and instead prefers to stay in because, she said, ìI like the pillow too much.î

But Ms. Crnokrakís life was not always about modeling. She described how her Serbian family, originally from Croatia, had to flee her birthplace during the Croatian War in the early 90ís.

ìWe lost everything. I lost my house,î she said. During the war, her familyís first house was destroyed. Then they moved to another house, but that house was also destroyed. Her family was left with little to survive, so Ms. Crnokrak eventually began modeling to help her family.

With the money she has earned from modeling so far, Ms. Crnokrak said she ìbought a house for my mom, and then grandmother.î

Even though modeling has given her financial stability, Ms. Crnokrak said that the career only lasts for a few years ó ìnot for a long time.î

Now sheís saving for a house of her own. She has a long-term boyfriend and is eager to go back to college. And thatís not all.

ìI want a baby and a husband,î she concluded.

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