It’s easy to spot Audrey Blondin in a crowd. Even in Manhattan’s bustling Chelsea Market, you can’t walk by without noticing the tall brunette standing in front of Anthropologie. When we introduce ourselves, Blondin forgoes the awkward handshake and beams a warm smile; the kind that makes you feel as if you’ve known her for years. The granddaughter of cosmetics mogul Lise Watier has been on the rise since scoring campaigns with Limité and Rad Hourani in her teens. Now 21, the Montreal native has moved to New York to further her modelling career. Between castings and shoots, she is on a mission to devour everything the city has to offer—tacos and literature included. Her enthusiasm is infectious. Before we can finish introducing ourselves, she’s already leading us to one of her favourite spots.
THE CHELSEA MARKET
“I have to show you something! I discovered it last month,” she says while weaving through a crowd. We end up at Seed + Mill, an artisanal halva shop, where Blondin nibbles on a sample. “Honestly, the texture is so weird, but I like it! The coconut one is my favourite.”
Blondin admits she’s a foodie. Luckily, her foray into commercial modelling means she doesn’t need to follow the typical model diet.
“They don’t like girls who are too skinny, which I like. When I first started modelling, I was more into high fashion and they asked me to wrap my chest. I was 16! I don’t think it’s good for a 16-year-old girl to feel bad about her body. With commercial work, they want smiling, happy models, so I prefer it,” she says.
She shows me a long list on her phone consisting of all the cafes, restaurants and bars she still needs to try.
“Whenever I walk somewhere, I add a few new places. Right now, I am really into tacos. You have to go to a place called La Esquina on Lafayette. Outside, you think it’s just a taco place but if you tell them you want to go downstairs, they bring you through the kitchen to a speakeasy bar.”
On our way out of the market she points to a shop, Artists & Fleas. “This place is so cute, I always want to buy new jewellery here. That’s the worst part of living in New York City. You want to buy everything in sight.”
THE HIGH LINE
We stop in front of the “Sleepwalker,” a statue by Brooklyn artist Tony Matelli. The realistic sculpture, part of the High Line’s Wanderlust exhibition, has drawn a crowd.
“I really like New York because there’s always something going on,” says Blondin. “But I also love the vibe of Montreal. It’s more relaxed. It’s more me. Eventually, I want to go back and study communications or public relations.”
Most of her friends don’t work in the fashion industry, which she likes because she can take a break from talking about work.
“I read all the time,” she says as she pulls out a book from her bag. “Right now I’m reading Garbology. My friend from Toronto told me about it. It’s all about garbage and recycling. I’m now being so careful about what I buy and where it’s from.”
THE WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
Blondin points above to The Whitney, one of her favourite galleries in Manhattan. The new building, designed by architect Renzo Piano, houses an impressive collection of modern and contemporary American art.
“It’s amazing inside! And on Friday they have free admission!”
Rumour has it Leonardo DiCaprio lives on Blondin’s street in Greenwich Village. She spends a lot of time in her neighbourhood – jogging, walking her roommate’s German Shepherd and sometimes getting lost but always finding her way home.
By now, we’ve been outside for a few hours. Blondin remarks that she should get out of the sun.
“I burn so easily! The number one thing my grandmother Lise tells me is to wear sunscreen all the time.”
So, we head to one of her favourite cafes.
“Yesterday it took me half an hour to decide what to order,” says Blondin as she scans the menu of Bluestone Lane, a Melbourne-inspired café on Greenwich Avenue. Her go-to dishes are the Avocado Smash or Rainbow Bowl.
“I’ve never tried their acai bowl here. I go to Juice Generation for that. My friend and I have an obsession with acai bowls. We have them way too much.”
Blondin settles on the avocado toast, which arrives looking as Instagrammable as ever. For a model, being active on social media is all part of a day’s work.
“I’ve had my private Instagram for awhile but when I worked in Miami, they asked me to take selfies. I didn’t want to do it but clients look at your Instagram. So I now have a personal account and a professional account,” she says.
After eating, we wander through Washington Square Park and back to Blondin’s neighbourhood. She’s booked a job this afternoon: a swimsuit shoot near Times Square. After that? She might cross a few more Manhattan spots off her bucket list.
“There are too many places and I need to restrain myself. One day, I’ll be rich and I’ll go to them all!” she says with a laugh.
We part ways on her street—still no Leo in sight. But who needs celebrities when you’ve got New York? For a model with an appetite, there’s no better place to be. ■