Granada Hills Charter High School senior Antoinette Pepitone has always been interested in modeling. However, it was not until one of her father’s friends approached her that she decided to pursue it.
Pepitone started modeling in her freshman year of high school at the California State University Northridge (CSUN) fashion department. As the daughter of a faculty member at CSUN, Pepitone frequently visited the college campus. Through her visits, she captured the attention of the fashion department due to her height and modelesque looks and was invited to participate in their annual fashion shows.
She further participated in modeling in a modeling contest in Los Angeles last spring. In the Los Angeles contest, Pepitone competed in the basic elements of modeling such as walking the runway and posing in a variety of stances for the judges. After Pepitone won the competition, she was given the opportunity to compete in Taiwan through the Eelin Modeling Agency.
Through the course of her trip, Pepitone sharpened her modeling skills and was exposed to many rewarding opportunities. In addition to taking lessons, she learned more about the Taiwanese culture and became closer with the other models.
Because she was the only American in the contest, Pepitone faced some difficulties in communication due to the language barrier. However, Pepitone was still able to communicate somewhat with the people around her due to her half-Chinese background and taking Advanced Placement Mandarin in school.
Before the competition, the contestants had to learn the ins and outs of the fashion industry. Most of the summer was dedicated to teaching the models how to walk properly and position their bodies so they look perpetually graceful. Other daily lessons included practicing to walk in high heels without having their knees buckle and maintaining their postures.
Through these classes, Pepitone was noticed some key differences in the way the Taiwanese lessons were structured in contrast to the ones she has taken in the United States.
“In Taiwan, they are more formal and strict than they are in the United States. Once, I was late for class because it was difficult communicating with my classmates and understanding the instructors. I had to walk into class and give a formal apology to everyone for being late and disrupting what they were doing and then I had to give a deep bow before I could start practicing,” Pepitone said.
After weeks of practicing and training, the contestants were finally ready to compete. The competition had several different events with components like walking, posing, and wearing different outfits such as ball gowns, tuxedos, and swimming suits.
“Being in the contest was definitely eye-opening. Between events, we were all rushed to the changing rooms to get ready for the next one. Everyone, boys and girls, were all in the same room changing into their clothes and it was normal. This gave me an idea of what professional modeling would be like and how comfortable models have to be with their bodies, especially in the presence of strangers,” Pepitone said.
For each section of the competition, the contestants would go up according to height, and because of that, Pepitone would be the last contestant for each event.
“As I would wait my turn I would observe every girl who went before me and notice what she did well in order to bring those elements when it was my turn,” Pepitone said.
Pepitone won first place in Taiwan and believes that the competition has definitely been a worthwhile experience.
Pepitone has always been interested in art and it is the artistic elements of modeling and fashion that intrigue her. She is considering going into a major that would help her explore these interests further.
“I’m very interested in modeling and hope to become a professional model. In addition to that, I would like to pursue a variety of other things as well because I have a variety of interests and passions and I would like to enjoy them all,” said Pepitone.