interview by JANA LETONJA

Numéro Netherlands Digital presents Emma Brooks, a model and mental health advocate who has established herself as a prominent figure in lifestyle content, collaborating with major brands in the fashion and beauty industry. She takes center stage in this fashion narrative captured by Phil Chester & Sara Byrne.


Emma, you’ve walked runways at New York Fashion Week. How empowering of a feeling is walking a runway show for you?

I am forever grateful I have been able to walk more than once during New York Fashion Week. The feeling I get is so empowering and also so fulfilling. When I was growing up, it was such a dream for me to even attend shows, and when I got the opportunity to walk, it was like meeting my inner child and giving her more than she expected. It is a jumble of emotions and adrenaline. They are mixed together and in the end I am left a ball of joy.

You’ve partnered with some of the largest fashion and beauty brands in the industry. Which partnership so far has been the most special to you?

I have had the pleasure of working with such fantastic fashion and beauty brands over the past couple of years and it’s so hard to choose. The first very important and special campaign I ever did was Paul Mitchell. I had been dedicated to Paul Mitchell for the longest time and they were one of the first campaigns I did that really meant so much to me and was even my first billboard in Times Square. It’s been such a dream the past year and a half to work with and meet so many fantastic people. It’s so hard to just pick one, but some of the most special partnerships I have had are with Dior, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana. Whether it’s been on the beauty or fashion side, it’s always such a personal feel working with them and the quality of product is always there. Because I’m so indecisive, I also will say there is an honorable mention for the Calvin Klein campaign I did last year where I ran around New York City in underwear and a Christmas tree. That was one of the most fun, exciting and memorable campaigns I have worked on.

You even designed your own clothing line. What interests you the most about designing? Would you like to do more of it in the future?

I have such an appreciation for designing. The ability to bring an idea to life is so exciting and I loved doing it. Designing and curating is so exciting and seeing my ideas come to fruition was something I had never experienced before. I was able to work with people that I could bounce off of and the design became even better than before. I just really enjoyed watching it continue to get better and better until it was ready and in front of us. I would love to do more in the future.

jacket & bra RETROFETE
shirt STAUD

On your social platforms, you update your followers daily on the books you are reading and your favorite fragrance scents for every occasion. We would love to hear your opinion on what scents are perfect for each occasion.

I do love books and I do love fragrance. I think that a signature scent is always great and I love the idea of someone associating one specific scent to you. However, I am a person that does love to wear different things all the time, especially for specific occasions. I think that during more business occasions or first impressions with someone, I like to have a more powerful scent that has notes of amber, santal, musk or wood. Something like Armani Santal, Boy Smells Woodphoria, REPLICA By The Fireplace or Tom Ford Myrrhe. When going out, I like to have a scent that is more seductive with notes of vanilla, coffee, orange blossom or even a strong mixture like wood and floral. For this type of fragrance I like Black Opium from YSL, Gris Dior, Good Girl Gone Bad by Kilian or Mugler Angel Elixir. The mixture of strong and light notes are what create such inviting scents. Then for something lighter, more innocent, I would suggest La Vie Est Belle by Lancome, REPLICA On a Date, Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet or Café Rose by Tom Ford. Bergamot, rose, patchouli, white musk and peony are all great ingredients for something very light and pretty. I could keep going, but there is never a wrong scent. Whatever makes you feel the most confident is always right.

Which is the last book you’ve read or are currently reading? Why would you recommend it to us?

I just finished ‘The Maid’ by Nita Prose and I would recommend it as a good flight or beach read. It’s a very short mystery that is set in a hotel about a maid, Molly, who is put in a very sticky situation when one of the guests is murdered and she becomes the main suspect. Molly is someone who takes life very literally and is someone you root for as you read along. It’s a book that stresses you out in the right ways and ends in a way that warms your heart. It’s a quick read, but it is good.

Which book you’ve read has left the biggest impression on you and why?

The book that has touched me the most so far is honestly ‘The Nightingale’ by Kristin Hannah. It’s about two sisters during World War II who are both separately aiding those in need during that time. It was based on true stories and I just think that the two sisters are so empowering. I am also just so close with my sister that it struck close to home. I cried for an hour and a half reading it and I believe it’s such a well-written and important book.

dress & jacket KARL LAGERFELD

Being passionate about fashion and beauty, what do you find the biggest stereotypes in the industry? How could these be overcome?

I think that there are stereotypes within both industries around authenticity and sustainability. There are brands out there who don’t have the best interest of people and our earth in mind, and to me that is something very important. I think it’s important to highlight and work with the brands that do celebrate people and environmental awareness. Stella McCartney is a brand that has always been made for anyone and everyone, but they also are ahead sustainability-wise. They highlighted over 20 different environmental pioneers at their SS24 fashion show that showed how we can create sustainable fashion. YSL Beauty is another brand taking huge leaps when approaching their products. They are working their way up to 100 % sustainable and reusable packaging and I was able to visit their gardens where they harvest their own ingredients and support local women in Marrakesh by providing jobs and resources. Gucci Beauty just launched their first fragrance that uses alcohol made through 100 % recycled carbon emissions. There are also places like Reformation where you can track the environmental footprint of each article they produce. The clothes are made of low impact fabrics, deadstock materials or repurposed vintage wares in sustainable facilities. Research is very important and I applaud these brands and others alike that are making their way to a more sustainable way of creating.

You are a huge mental health advocate and use your platform to destigmatize mental health issues. Why is this topic one that is especially close to you?

Mental health is a topic very important to me because it is something that I have been working on for the longest time. At 12, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and when I was 18, I got diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. I started medication and therapy at a very young age, and I dealt with addiction and was admitted into the hospital twice during my high school years. I have struggled and have seen others struggle, and I know the importance of having someone to lean on. I think that the stigma of mental health has come a long way, but still has such a long way to go. It’s so circumstantial and shows up differently for everyone, but I think that everyone deserves the grace and kindness of being listened to and cared for. People deserve to have resources to help them get through whatever they may be dealing with.

What would be your best advice to someone struggling with their own mental health?

I would say to be kind to themselves, to be patient and to find no shame in asking for help. Getting better takes a lot of time and work, and it doesn’t happen overnight. While the process is happening, just remember to find ways to show yourself love and appreciation. It’s easier said than done, but I believe in you and I have hope for you. In the end it will always be okay and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

What can you share with us about your upcoming projects for 2024? Any special goals in mind you want to accomplish?

In 2024 my main goal is to focus more on myself and my growth. I have so much love and passion for fashion, beauty, books, film, fragrance and travel, and I want to focus more on those things that make me who I am. I want to create and learn more about the things that make me better.

styling TRACY SHAPOFF at Forward Artists
hair CHERILYN FARRIS at Mane Addicts
editorial director and interview JANA LETONJA