Hello, my name is Esther!

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Meet the Man in the Ralph Lauren Ads: Model Ian Mellencamp

Meet the Man in the Ralph Lauren Ads: Model Ian Mellencamp

Photo via

Photo via

The last two weeks have been an absolute whirlwind - two back to back business trips, all the while trying to organize an interview and photoshoot with the renowned model/musician Ian Mellencamp. Ian Mellencamp was ranked in the top 50 male models in the world (#25 to be exact) and has been the face of some of the biggest ad campaigns for designers such as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Gap, Diesel, and Tom Ford! You'll probably recognize him by his signature long hair (which is silky smooth, by the way). Don't get too attached though because Ian confessed he may be chopping off those locks soon.

From the second Ian arrived, I could feel his energy. He's got a fun-loving, free spirit and he was an absolute pleasure to work with! When I told him that I am no model, but we would be doing some shots together, his immediate response was, "Are you sure?" It was then that I knew it was destined to be a great day on set -- and it was! He kept me laughing all day as we made funny faces at the camera and he even gave me faux modeling 101 lessons, which included yoga poses and stretching (a video for another time)!

Most of the shots we took were candid, snapped by photographer Kyle Aaron Lacy as Ian and I chatted about his modeling career and music. But as we were getting ready to wrap, Kyle got creative. There was a band of jugglers doing their thing nearby in Bryant Park and Kyle asked if Ian and I could pose under their lines of fire (slew of balls). I think I want to take a moment to play Never Have I Ever... posed with a top model as jugglers threw large objects over our heads! It was a surreal experience and quite frankly, awesome!

Now, may I introduce to you the one and only Ian Mellencamp:

Ian was rocking out with his band in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio when he was approached by modeling agency Click Models. Modeling had never been a part of Ian's plans, but he always said if the right opportunity came up, he would give it a shot. Calvin Klein was definitely an opportunity he could not refuse, so when he got casted, he took the job and officially began his male modeling career. He may have been late in the game, getting into the industry at 20 something, but he most definitely started at the top, his first shoot being photographed by the esteemed Steven Meisel!

After getting a brief history of Ian's start, I asked him about his personal experience in the modeling industry.

What was the first thing you learned as a model? "The walk." 

Print or runway? "It depends on the shoot and location, but there's a lot of energy at the {runway} shows." Speaking of runway, I was very interested to hear how Ian partook in New York Fashion Week in a completely new way this past season, DJing for designer Brandon Sun!

Who was the coolest person you ever met? "{Photographer} Bruce Weber." He would walk around set with canisters at his side filled with his old school film.

What is one thing people don't usually know about the modeling industry? "It's hard to know what people don't know, but I am always surprised to find out how much they retouch photos. Just how much." He went on to tell me about one ad that was retouched to the point that he looked plastic. 

What is your favorite perk of being a model? "Free time. Access to a whole different world I hadn't had before. Traveling." 

Ian's been around the world (Paris, London, Barcelona...), but when I asked him the best place he ever traveled to for work, he took me by complete surprise and said, "Upstate New York." Ian did a rock climbing shoot there where the entire team climbed the rocks with him. They even brought the wardrobe up there! 

What stereotypes do you face as a male model? "Zoolander kinda ruined it for male models. There are some truths to that movie, but many things are not true."

What do you like to wear on your ‘off duty’ days? "Eccentric stuff. Vintage." After I dared to suggest the term hipster (haha), Ian settled on the more fitting style description of "post modern vintage."

What's your favorite piece currently in your closet? "Something I've never worn. An Adidas Jeremy Scott gold chained jacket. It's see-through." 

Let's talk about your music. Where do you usually play? "On the Lower East Side. I play bass for Stella Santana and a band called Isadora." He really plays guitar, but they asked him to play bass, so he tried it out and went with it.

Are you working on anything right now? "Right now it's all about finishing up the EP." Ian's working with Rocket Tone Records to put out an EP that will be ready in April. 

Who inspires you? "David Bowie, David Byrne, Frank Zappa, Nine Inch Nails. All music." 

Have you ever played with your Uncle John {Mellencamp}? "I have. Strumming acoustic." The story goes that at John's daughter's wedding, John was playing with his band and told Ian to come join him on stage. John handed Ian a right handed guitar (he's a lefty) and put the spotlight on him. Ian said, "Wait, it's upside down!" But, he totally winged it!

Have you always been musical? "Since I was a little kid. I started around 5 on piano. I don't play {piano} as much now. I may have played tuba once too."  

Are you a songwriter too? "Yea, I write music. I also do covers once in a while. The first EP I put out a year ago {Visions}, I wrote it all on the computer. I even programmed drums." Ian's next EP, called "In the Land of the Midnight Sun," takes things to the next level and was recorded with a band in Nashville.

What does "In the Land of the Midnight Sun" mean? "{The theme of the EP is all} about the lifestyle change coming to New York {from Cincinnati}. There's no concept of time in New York. I have no day job, so sometimes I find myself working at 2AM. In this day and age, people text you business wise or just personally at any time. There's no privacy. It's a reference to land after time." 

Do you like karaoke? "Yea, sometimes in the right conditions." Little did I know when asking this question that Ian actually did a music video for a song called "Spells," in which he went to Korea Town and recorded part of it in a Karaoke Bar. A lot of sake drinking was involved. Before and during.

Outside of modeling and music, what are some of your interests? "Snowboarding. Reading. Painting." 

Are you good {at painting}? "I don't know yet. I'm figuring out the outlet." 

Ian has been successful in every other area of his life, so I would not even be surprised if you see him back on L&L talking about his artwork!

Photo Credit: Kyle Aaron Lacy

xx Esther

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