Model Brad Kroenig, former muse of Karl Lagerfeld, moves to Lakewood Ranch
IIf you do a double take when you see Brad Kroenig, there’s a reason: he’s a famous model. You may have seen it in ads for Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch, or on the catwalks for Jil Sander, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi and Chanel. vogue named him one of the top 10 male models of all time. At one time, Kroenig was so well known that the New York Times Review featured it in an article titled “The jet-set life of Karl Lagerfeld’s favorite model, so far. “International fashion gigs and sunny summers in Saint-Tropez were part and parcel of life.
Now Kroenig, 43, and his wife, Nicole, 39, a real estate agent and daughter of tennis legend and IMG Academy founder Nick Bollettieri, have settled down with their two sons at Lakewood Ranch, near the place where they first met 15 years ago.
“It’s come full circle” is a phrase the couple uses over and over again.
Je Kroenigs met in 2007 in Sarasota, on a blind date over a golf game that turned into dinner at Pacific Rim, followed by a pub crawl in Southside Village. The next day, Brad flew to Paris for work, but the couple’s fate was sealed.
“When he wasn’t traveling, we were together,” recalls Nicole.
Early in their relationship, the couple tried to split their time between Sarasota and New York, but with Brad’s booming career, they decided to move to New York full-time. Nicole expanded her real estate career to include New Jersey while maintaining her license in Florida.
Nicole is a born and raised local, but Brad grew up in Missouri and came to Florida on a football scholarship at Florida International University. He started modeling at the age of 20 after a friend encouraged him to give it a try, thanks to his sun-kissed blonde locks and smoldering brown eyes.
“At first I was like, ‘I’m not going to do this,’ but she kept insisting,” he says. “So I went to two modeling agencies in Miami Beach and they both kindly declined.”
He decided to try another agency, which ended up accepting him. He modeled in Miami for six months, then went to Los Angeles and eventually New York, where he signed with Ford Models. He has been with the agency for over 20 years.
KRoenig’s career took off in 2001, after landing a Ralph Lauren campaign. As his star continued to rise, an industry friend introduced him to Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s creative director. He began appearing in print advertisements and runway shows for the brand, and he and Lagerfeld developed a close friendship. Eventually, he became known as the creator’s muse.
The Kroenigs speak fondly of Lagerfeld, who oversaw Chanel from 1983 until his death in 2019. He was even godfather to their children.
“Karl was a big part of my success,” says Brad. “He was down to earth and always so kind. He loved to crack jokes and was the best at the lines.”
“He was so funny,” admits Nicole.
“We’ve traveled the world together. I’ve been to Japan, Korea, Singapore, Beijing, Europe, everywhere,” says Brad. “Every August, we spent two or three weeks with him in Saint-Tropez.”
“It wasn’t work-related, just pure family time,” Nicole says.
JThese days, the Kroenigs are less focused on leads than they are building their real estate brand, working with St. Armands Circle of Coldwell Banker Desk.
“It’s a natural fit. You could blindfold me on Longboat Key, I know the area so well,” Nicole says. “We love helping everyone. We love every transaction. I think we value the experience as much as our customers.”
Being back in Sarasota-Manatee also means more time for family life. The couple’s sons, Hudson Nicholas and Jameson Karl, are 14 and 10. Their lives are filled with sports, beach trips, and Florida adventures. The family enjoys dining out; their favorite restaurant is Longboat Key’s Euphemia Hague.
Of course, with their father’s unique connection to the fashion industry, the boys have also been successful in modeling. In fact, Hudson had his first shoot with Lagerfeld in Berlin.
“We thought it was a unique thing, and then he booked the Chanel show when he was two,” Brad said.
LLooking at the trajectory of his life, it makes sense that Brad draws parallels between his famous stepfather and the iconic designer who gave him his biggest professional break. “[Lagerfeld] and Nick remind me a lot with their demeanor, mentality and focus,” says Brad.
“They were always looking forward,” Nicole said, ending her husband’s thought. “I think it’s a good way to live.”