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It All Started As A Joke: A New York Fashion Week Model’s Story

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

“Did they email you guys back too?”

Franciska Southan, a 19-year-old model and pre-law major at Fordham University, texted her friends this sentence in 2019, curious about why she had received an email from one of the top modeling agencies in the world.

Franciska was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, and raised her whole life in Swampscott, a small ocean town nearby where she became more commonly known as “Franci” to her peers, friends, and even teachers (many of whom couldn’t pronounce her Hungarian name).

Throughout her school years, Franci involved herself deeply in the world of ballet, performing in numerous showcases and even Boston Ballet’s very own The Nutcracker. Much of her youth was centered around ballet and the weekly three-hour long classes that happened Monday through Saturday. The amount of time spent with the girls at her ballet company fostered close connections and friendships among the group of girls. When asked about her social life in her formative years, Franci commented, “I felt so much closer to my ballet friends than I did to those at my school. The kids at my school really only knew me for being the quiet girl that did ballet.” 

One afternoon, Franci and some of her friends from ballet (two of whom attend UMass now!) were messing around and discovered a popular modeling agency was accepting applications and decided it would be funny to apply and see what could happen. None of the girls had expected any sort of response. Franci was shocked to hear back from the company, “I definitely did not expect to end up where I am now. I think I just got lucky.”

When emailed about a month or so later in her sophomore year of high school, Franci decided to seize the opportunity presented to her and began her journey into the modeling industry. 

Throughout high school, she would attend small castings and gigs close to Boston. When her senior year began she started traveling back and forth to New York City. “It was difficult to manage work, school, college applications, and my friends,” she said.

After graduation, Franci immediately moved to New York for the summer where she lived in an apartment with another model, and was given real opportunities to get more footing in the modeling world. She began doing more castings and shoots, and got a taste of what city life would be like. 

In 2022, she started her freshman year at Fordham University where she was able to pursue her modeling career while being a full-time student. Living in New York, things began to take off for Franci. She modeled for companies like Urban Outfitters, Calvin Klein, and Daniel Riccardo. 

“Modeling is so awesome because of the many different artistic minds you experience and collaborate with. You get to interact on a professional level and experience things most kids my age would not.”

—Franciska Southan

Eventually, Franci was given the opportunity to walk in five shows for Fall and Spring New York Fashion Week, a huge accomplishment. She was posted on Vogue’s website and on NYFW’s official Instagram alongside many widely known names. New York Fashion week is not for the faint-hearted but is an adventure many wish to experience. “Although hectic and busy, it paid off in the end. Getting to see the show come together and the applause at the end was so rewarding and surreal,” said Franci.

Franci commented on her experience, “I met so many cool people and models that I never thought I would see or speak to. Brooke Shields’ daughter took a photo of ME. Isn’t that so crazy that I am in her camera roll?”

After finishing spring NYFW, Franci grew more excited to further her modeling career. “I haven’t even officially debuted yet. I’ve really just been going along for the ride and feel so lucky for everything this experience has given me. I am unbelievably grateful for the opportunities I never would’ve expected”

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Marin Mercer

U Mass Amherst '26

Hi! I'm Marin Mercer, a freshman at Umass Amherst in the college of education! I love listening to music, reading, writing, and laughing with friends!