Photography by William Ross

Nigel Barker

Photographer | Author

| Meatpacking

Most of us are either comfortable in front of the camera or behind it, but rarely do we find someone who is both. Spoiler alert: Nigel Barker isn’t most of us. The British-born model-come-photographer broke into the fashion biz by way of a decade-long international modeling career before discovering a natural talent for the other side of the lens and since, his incredible work has been featured in top glossies like GQ and Interview. Throw in two highly-celebrated TV gigs and Barker’s role supersedes both titles: as a judge on America’s Next Top Model and later the host of The Face, he’s become a venerated industry voice for the modeling world as a whole. In fact, his newest book, Models of Influence (yes, he’s an author too) chronicles 50 of the most important faces since the 1940’s— from Dovima and Twiggy to Cara Delevingne and Lara Stone. Still, it’s Barker’s life at home that may be the most picture perfect: married to model Cristen Chin, the pair are a match made in some sort of divine model heaven. Here, he sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal his little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: Barbuto on Washington and West 12th Street (MAP ITBOOK IT, x). First of all it is under one of the top photo studios in NYC (Industria), so it’s very convenient for post-shoot dinners. It used to be an old garage so it has these great sliding garage doors which they open in the summer creating fabulous al fresco dining and the menu is refreshed regularly so you can always try something new.

COFFEE OR TEA: Tea of course. The best cup in the city is at SoHo House (MAP ITx) because, they use British PG tips.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Buddakan next to Chelsea Market (MAP ITBOOK IT, x). The food is fantastic and indulgent and the ambiance and crowd is eclectic and vivacious. Order everything.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: A dirty martini at Verlaine on Rivington (MAP IT, x) or at Brass Monkey (MAP IT, x).

HAPPY HOUR: Dublin 6 (*Location now closed) or “D6” as the locals call it.

MUSIC PICK: Depends on the time of day, but overall, rock n’ roll at Bowery Ballroom (MAP IT, x).

BEST BRUNCH: Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Chinatown (MAP IT, x). My wife is Chinese and we all love to have dim sum on a Sunday for brunch. This is hands-down the best place with the nicest vibe. It’s small though so be prepared to wait.

BUSINESS LUNCH: SoHo House.

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: Sitting outside having a burger at Cowgirl on Hudson street (MAP IT, x).

HEALTHY STAPLE: Zampa (*Location now closed) for a tuna sandwich on foccacia.

NY’S BEST KEPT SECRET: Decibel Sake Bar on East 9th Street (MAP IT, x)— it’s below street level with a door that always looks like it’s closed. This is the best place to start your evening adventure.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: I have always loved NYC for the creative vibe I feel when I’m there— as soon as I leave, I am not as inspired (at least not in the same way).

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: Hasaki (MAP IT, x) just down the street from Decibel. Crissy and I have been eating there for 17 years and quite frankly it has the best sushi I have ever tasted in the world, including Japan.

KID-FRIENDLY STAPLE: Chelsea Market (MAP IT, x) is a great place rain or shine. The kids love the book store and the Italian ice cream that you can buy at either side of this indoor shopping dining experience. We are there several times a week, to buy wine from Chelsea Wine Vault if nothing else.

DREAM SHOOT LOCATION: I love it all, but I particularly like construction sites where I know that once I have shot there, it will either be torn down or built upon and changed making it a totally unique shoot location.

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: Ball games with my son (either Yankee Stadium (MAP IT) or Citi Field (MAP IT)).

TO ESCAPE AND UNWIND: The movies.

CLOSET CHECK: My style is a fashion mullet, business-on-top and party-on-the-bottom situation! I love jeans from 3×1 in SoHo (MAP IT, x) who make made-to-measure, bespoke jeans. My jackets come from Ted Baker or J.Lindeberg and my shoes are usually Paul Smith or John Varvatos.

GIFTS FOR HER: I love Calypso for fun summer gifts and Ippolita (MAP IT) bangles are a no-brainer for the wife… I started a collection now.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Gift baskets from Chelsea Market.

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: I have my head shaved at Fellow Barber on Horatio Street (MAP IT, x) every 10 days.

FIT PICK: I work out with The Dog Pound (x) 6 days-a-week; my trainer is Kirk Myers.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: Two weeks ago, I spent the night in the National History Museum with my 9 year old son. We had dinner before we arrived at Shake Shack and then checked in around 6.30 pm at the museum. They have all sorts of activities, movies and special exhibitions for you and at midnight you go to sleep in the museum right before the whole place comes to life! CP

Nigel’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Fellow Barber; 3×1 denim; Hasaki sushi; Barker’s dog. Second Row: Barker with his daughter; Nom Wah dim sum; A dirty martini at Dublin6; Inside Barbuto.

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