Picture perfect: Emerson’s Next Top Model crowns a winner


Replacing Tyra Banks with kooky dressed male students, Emerson College Fashion Society hosted its own Next Top Model competition.

The Bill Bordy Theater opened its doors on April 2 to ECFS members, Emerson student models, and the public, for the final rounds in a co-ed modeling competition that had started a week and a half prior. Freshman Zeke St. John won the contest, along with freshman Chance Liekkiö as the audience favorite choice.

Emerson’s Next Top Model consisted of four rounds, three of which were live in the Bordy. The first round, a portfolio of photos shot prior to the event, included all 10 contestants posing with props like honey, sportswear, and playground equipment. Only the top five made it on to the second round, a questionnaire. Both humorous and serious questions were asked, and the top three were chosen based on the answers. The remaining trio was then asked to model a surprise object of the hosts’ choosing. St. John was given a silver sequined pillow; Liekkiö, a jar of honey; and junior Taylor Jett, a swiffer.

The judges, Emerson students Eleanor Barnes, Kyle Neill, and Daniel Riva, took five minutes between each live round to contemplate their decisions. They based them on the contestants’ presentations, personality, and talent. The judges could not be reached for comment.

The final round featured a “walk-off” between St. John, a performing arts major, and Jett, a visual and media arts major. The two strutted down the temporary runway in a last attempt to win the judges over. When St. John was announced the winner, the crowd went wild.

“It’s funny because each round I kept thinking, ‘OK, this is it,’” St. John said. “It never really occurred to me that I could potentially win. Because the whole process was very non-competitive, it wasn’t until the live event that [I really acknowledged] that there was going to be a winner. I guess how I felt was taken aback and surprised.”

St. John decided to join the competition after a friend suggested it and his suitemate, Tommaso Di Blasi, joined. Di Blasi, a freshman journalism major, didn’t make it past the first round. Nonetheless, he was the first one out of his seat when St. John won.

By the end of the competition, St. John and Liekkiö, a visual and media arts major, said they had made plenty of new friends. It was a fun, different way for them to get involved and meet new people, St. John said, and he learned a lot about fashion and makeup techniques he said he had no idea even existed.

“I took out of it the friendships and acquaintances I made, that was definitely the biggest thing,” St. John said. “Also an understanding for makeup. I’m a theater major so I know stage makeup, but not to this extent. For each shoot, we would have 30 minutes of makeup. I just never knew there was that much.”

The hardest part of the whole competition for him was the cold. The “sporty photoshoots,” as described by the panel of judges, were shot in March, but made to look like summer. This required few clothes and led to freezing bodies. Liekkiö said they brought blankets for the shoot at the playground. 

“I think my favorite part was just hanging out with the people in between the different photoshoots,” Liekkiö said. “I wanted to get myself out into the community a little bit and meet some people I may not have met otherwise.”

One of Liekkiö’s roommates is on the ECFS staff and encouraged him to audition. He said the hardest part was modeling in front of an audience at the live event.

“I just reassured myself that sometimes it’s good to just go for it,” Liekkiö said. “I don’t think people would normally see me going out for something like this, so sometimes it’s good to just go for it. That’s what I took from this.”


Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the ECFS staff couldn’t be reached for comment. It was the judges who could not be reached.