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Chanel Iman

Chanel Iman has quickly become one of the driving forces in the next wave of supermodels. She’s been sought after for countless runway shows in New York, Paris and Milan and appeared on the cover of Vogue just one year after her runway debut at Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2006 show.

Chanel Iman has quickly become one of the driving forces in the next wave of supermodels. She’s been sought after for countless runway shows in New York, Paris and Milan and appeared on the cover of Vogue just one year after her runway debut at Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2006 show.

Following her Bal Harbour Magazine cover shoot, we caught up with the 19-year-old supermodel-in-the-making on the rooftop of her Downtown New York condo to talk about Fashion’s Night Out, iPads and secret spa hideouts. — Tali Jaffe.


Well, it was great getting back to LA since that’s where I grew up and that’s where my family is. And that house was beautiful. It was a lot of fun for me.

You moved to New York from LA a few years ago now; was it a difficult transition?

Well, I think it’s hard to meet people in general here. New York is very business. But the friends you do make here end up being really good friends because when you work as hard as you have to here, the fun is that much better!

So what do you like to do for fun?

Well in the summer I spend most weekend in the Hamptons at my friend’s house. You just get away from all of this [motioning to the downtown skyline] and it’s so relaxing.

Do you have any escapes in the city?

Spa Castle. It’s in queens. It’s a huge spa resort—actually it’s not a resort [she laughs]. It’s this massive spa that has everything. You have to go to do it! Look it up. I wish I had my iPad right now and I would show you.

Do you love the iPad?

Yes, it’s great. But make sure you get the 3G.

Ok, noted. So tell me more about Spa Castle

It’s the most amazing, relaxing place. It’s my little secret spot. It’s Korean, and since I’m part-Korean, I like to keep it in the family.

Did you follow South Korea in the World Cup?

I’m not too into soccer, but I watched the finals at my friend’s place. We all cheered for Spain. I love activities. I love thing you do with a whole bunch of people: bowling, camping, hiking, football games, playing pool. I just love having fun with a group of people. Barbecues.

Do you cook?

I’m the only one in the apartment [shared with her boyfriend and best friend] who can cook. My best friend is a vegetarian, so it’s easy for me to cook for her.

Do you like to eat healthy?

No, not really. She does, so I try and do it for her, but we’re the total opposite. I need to work on eating more veggies. I love fruit, though.

Please tell me you have to work at keeping your body in shape.

[With a big smile] I’m pretty blessed. My father is 6’7” and super thin. I got my genes from him. My best friend goes to the gym every day and I’m sitting in the apartment baking cookies.

Do you have any favorite restaurants in New York?

Some of my favorite places here are La Esquina and the Mercer Kitchen.

I love that salad at La Esquina.

Oh, don’t even talk about it. It’s so good. That dressing… It’s like when you go to In-N-Out Burger in LA, it’s the sauce that makes it so good. It’s the best cheeseburger on the planet.

Does LA have better burgers than New York?

Totally. By far!

Where do you like escaping to?

Miami is my little getaway. I love Miami. I love Casa Tua. It’s my favorite restaurant. I think about it all of the time when I’m not there. It’s so romantic. Hopefully one day I’ll be buying a place in Miami.

Really? Where would you want to live there?

If I made enough money, I’d live in Miami Beach and just come to New York for work. It’s an easy commute. Jet skiing, the boats, the beach. That’s my kind of life. But I’m afraid of the hurricanes.

Well you grew up with earthquakes.

That’s totally different!

Where do you like to stay in Miami?

I like staying at the Standard. I love the hammam and how the hotel is sort of away from everything and quiet. But the Setai in Miami is off the chain! That’s my first choice.

So how often do you get down to Miami?

I try to go often in the winter. We shoot a lot down there for Victoria’s Secret.

Did you walk the show at the Fontainebleau?

I wasn’t old enough last year. I was so upset because I missed the cut off by a month! I wanted to be in Miami walking in lingerie and those wings!

Fashion’s Night Out is coming up. Do you have plans yet for this year?

Last Year was so much fun. I just shot a commercial—you know the ones that play in taxis—promoting FNO. It’s too early to say where I’ll be, but I’ll def be a part of it. Keeping the stores open so late just makes you want to go out and shop. So I’m saving now so I can shop in the middle of the night.

Do you have anything on your Fall wish list?

Well right now I haven’t bought any clothes because I have a boutique in LA called the Red Bag Boutique. I’m not really into wearing the latest designers—except when it comes to my bag and my shoes. When it comes to clothes it’s more about what makes me feel good.

And what makes you feel good?

Honestly when I’m wearing Gucci or Dolce it’s nice, but I feel like I’m working. Like, OK, I’m about to hit the runway. I just like to chill and not wear too much high fashion. But when I go out, I like to turn it on a little.

So what kind of shoes do you love?

When I go out I wear really high heels. I love Louboutin. But they’re very uncomfortable! So if I’m at a party for four hours, I can wear them. But if it’s an all-day thing, I’m in my Chanel ballet flats. Or I’ll wear my tennis shoes when I’m skateboarding around the city with my boyfriend.

Tell me a little more about Red Bag Boutique. How do you handle the buying?

I do some of it. Half of the store is for my mom’s customer, and half is mine. It’s really for all women—mothers and daughters can go together. There’s something for everyone.

Do you plan on spending more time in LA now?

Well, I may spend more time in LA next year. I’m trying to start some things out there. I’m taking acting classes and have an acting coach. But for now I’m here modeling and save as much money as I can and reach other goals in my life.

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