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You might recognize Carmen Vienhage from our site, especially if you've been peeping our new arrivals. She's a New York based model and actress who's got a lot of insight into a (very important) side of modeling we don't hear about as often: production fit modeling. Here, she opens up to us about the behind the scenes world, self confidence, and her hopes and dreams for the future. 
SOCIAL DECAY: So you model and act. Do you prefer one over the other?
CARMEN VIENHAGE: It is hard to choose a preferential one because both industries allow me to create. Whether it's building a character or contributing during the design process of a garment, they both make me feel like a very fulfilled person. I absolutely love "playing dress up" as a career choice but it is so much more than that. Modeling, specifically production fit, is how I'm financing paying the bills and for acting school. I've learned certain things from modeling that are useful for acting, like confidently walking into an audition room. For acting, I recently began a two-year program at the William Esper Studio, a place I feel at home. I've also been fortunate to travel the world acting, performing in Argentina, Romania, LA, St. Louis and around New York. Traveling to and performing in other countries has opened my eyes to other cultures and ways of acting training. I’ve been fortunate to make many extraordinarily cool friends around the world and see some very unique productions.
SD: Can you tell everyone what production fit modeling entails? A little glimpse into the behind the scenes world? 
CV: Well, besides having to actually measure every inch of my body every day, it is a lot of fun! Production fit modeling certainly has its own set of challenges, but I love every minute. Three years ago MSA Models brought me in to have my body measured. They told me I had near perfect proportions (lol) and signed me as a production fit model. At the time, I had no clue what that meant but fortunately, my agency offers weekly classes. They have taught me everything I know about garment construction and how to identify certain fixable problems within the structure of a garment. While I'm just a small part of the design process for the fashion industry, I take a lot of pride in providing critical feedback about garments before they go into production. I fit for a range of clients, from denim to swim to a modest clothing line and more. I recently did a lot of Ugly Christmas Sweaters, which was hilarious and obviously super glamorous. It makes me so proud seeing the clothes I fit in stores and females on the street strutting around in cute clothes I helped make a possibility!

SD: How do you stay in shape to keep such specific measurements for fit modeling?
CV: Running after the subway or sprinting through the super crowded Garment District to my go-sees. Seriously though, I'm constantly trying to figure that out. It's a tedious process because of the specificity of measurements I need to keep up with. The continuous and conflicting advice about how to work out and how not to work out sometimes makes my head spin. Currently, I walk around 5 miles a day, eat very consciously, and drink a ton of water. I also foam roll myself out to lean out my muscles.
SD:...And more importantly, how do you keep your self-esteem positive in such a cutthroat industry?
CV: I am very grateful for having a kick-ass support system and sounding board. My agents, family, boyfriend, and friends, especially the other fit models, are incredibly supportive. I couldn’t have asked for better agents. They work very hard for me and always push me to be better. They're like family. With my line of modeling, the only things I have control over are my measurements, my attitude, and my preparedness when I walk into the audition room and everything else is left at the door. The industry's skewed and varied sizing combined with a subjective selection process can make the rejection hurt but it is something I am constantly working on accepting. It has required a lot of self-care and checking in with my mental health. Ultimately, I'm proud of my progress, my hard work, and who I am as a person and that is what gets me through. There will always be another audition and another chance to prove myself but I try to stay as gracious and confident during the audition and then after I can cry and call my friends if needed. Life is all about balance.

SD: You also do e-commerce modeling (like you did for us!) What would be a dream site for you to model for?
CV:  I'd love to shoot for Refinery 29 (putting that out into the world wide web or universe- whichever gets me the job first!). I appreciate the body positive movement and no retouching sentiments of Aerie. I also really love the social activism and diversity of Chromat, Rachel Comey, and Opening Ceremony. I am always excited to see what these brands are creating. Im also adding Alexander McQueen, United Nude, and Frame because I feel like they set trends for many other companies to follow and think outside of the box in everything they do. I'm more of a commercial model than high fashion BUT I can dream to be paid to wear all of that gorgeous, beautifully made, creative clothing.
SD: And what would be a dream acting project for you?
CV: I would die if I were in a Wes Anderson film. In New York, Sleep No More would be a great gig, and after seeing it three times, it's still one of my favorite immersive theatre productions. At this point in my career, I'm down to try anything in any medium as long as I'm behind the subject matter and trust the creative team. There is something so gorgeous about experiencing life through a different person's perspective that is very humanizing. I'm very grateful to be on this life path. The rewards make the sacrifice and hard work well worth it.

1 comment

  • Marianne Muellerleile: October 19, 2017

    I found this interview very engaging and enlightening.

    I applaud Carmen on her drive and enthusiasm.

    I have every confidence she will realize her dreams.

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