While Emerson students have a reputation for immersing themselves in internships, auditions, and other extracurriculars to express their talents, they rarely get the opportunity to compete based solely on vanity. To compensate, every fall, 10 male students from Emerson get the chance to model for a series of photoshoots and partake in live challenges to win the title of what Fashion Society dubs “Emerson’s Next Top Male Model.”
Inspired by the reality competition show America’s Next Top Model, Fashion Society hosts this event annually to raise money for its later events such as Style Wars, a spring fashion show. The competition involves a collaboration among Fashion Society’s styling teams, marketing outreach teams, and community business sponsors such as Boston Common Coffee Company, Starbucks, J.P. Licks, and Paradise Bakery.
What began as a group of self-proclaimed attractive males auditioning for a place in the final 10 led to a competition involving a panel of three judges and Emerson’s student body, culminating in a night of live challenges that took place on Thursday, Nov. 14 in the Bill Bordy Theater. There, after several rounds of applause for shirtless guys and piercing eyes, freshman journalism major Lloyd Mallison was declared the winner.
The judging and four rounds of elimination began with the comparison of the guys’ best and worst photos, as selected by the judges. During this part of the program, host Najah Muhammad, a senior performing arts major, kept the audience entertained by inserting subtle flirtatious comments on the photos, giving out the occasional kiss on the cheek, and praising the guys regardless of their critiques. Each contestant’s photos from the shoots were displayed on a projector, and the contestants were asked to stand and comment on their work.
“We choose different shoots every year so we can keep it fresh,” said senior marketing communication major Tess Babbitt, co-president of Fashion Society. “We have a creative team that brainstorms ideas for the shoots starting in early October, and after we do casting and pick the top 10 guys, all the shoots get done in one weekend.”
For the first of the photo shoots, contestants were asked to wear either a V-neck shirt or go completely shirtless, and then were sprayed with glycerin to make them look wet and shiny in the black-and-white, Calvin Klein-esque photos.
“In the Calvin Klein shoot, I opted to go shirtless and was only wearing boxers,” said Mallison. “I was wearing practically nothing, sitting there, in addition to the glycerin, which tasted awful, and having to smolder with the camera.”
Mallison, with red hair, a chiseled chest (which he repeatedly exposed to the crowd), and a thick British accent, won over both the crowd and the judges through his strength in the photos and his performance in live challenges.
In one challenge, contestants were asked to demonstrate their best runway walk and dance moves, to which they each added their individual spins, such as peeling off their shirts, walking through the aisles, and using animated facial expressions. At one point, the three semi-finalists were asked to do a reading of commercials for cosmetics in foreign languages.
“I liked seeing how everyone reacted to the various competitions,” said Mallison. “It was interesting to see how they got into it and dealt with it personally.”
Earlier in the competition, the contestants were asked to come wearing clothes most representative of themselves to create a photo that showed a culmination of the range of personalities. The photo was then used for the event poster.
“My favorite part was definitely seeing Jake Cannavale strutting out in his personal style,” said Mallison of the freshman writing, literature, and publishing major. “Seeing him wearing nothing but boxers and boxing boots for the ‘personal style’ was definitely a highlight.”
The creative team selected shoots that not only allowed the contestants to convey their personalities, but also appealed to a variety of audiences and purposes, basing shoots off of magazine advertisements. In addition to the Calvin Klein photo shoot, the guys were shot in a “ladies’ man” pose, involving unbuttoned shirts, lipstick kisses on their cheeks, and female hands reaching for them from outside the frame. They were also taken off-campus to a pool hall for a sexy, bad-boy shoot with a female model, and to an arboretum for a fake shaving cream advertisement in which they were dressed as lumberjacks and posed against trees.
Fashion Society’s marketing team used photos of the contestants in nearly all aspects of outreach, attempting to create a buzz among the student body.
“People come out to this because you get to see hot guys,” said Sarah Bolton, a junior marketing communications and communication studies double major. “It’s our most fun event. It’s always entertaining, and we like to reflect that in advertising.”
As the marketing director of Fashion Society, Bolton worked with the outreach team to think of other creative ways to invite students to the live event.
“We spammed people with valentines in addition to social networking,” said Bolton. “Flyers tend to get lost, so we printed out small, credit-card size pieces of paper with different contestants’ faces on them and shoved them under the doors of every single dorm on campus. I think it’s against school policy, but it gets people interested.”
With a significant buzz created and a line extending down Tremont Street, Thursday’s events provided high-energy entertainment leading up to the revealing of the winner. Not only were the contestants performing typical modeling challenges such as walking and posing, but they were also asked to participate in unconventional challenges like spelling the names of famous European designers like Proenza Schouler and Giuseppe Zanotti.
Between critiques, hot guys, and humor, ENTMM’s live event draws interest from a larger part of the school than typical Fashion Society events, said Bolton.
“The live event is definitely my favorite part, despite being the most hectic,” added Babbitt. “You get to see the connections made in such a short amount of time, between not only our Fashion Society members and the guys, but also the guys with each other.”