Flare Magazine - October 2014
The multi-talented model, social media master and guest editor of FLARE shares the lessons that transformed her from a nerdy B.C. girl into a fashion revolutionary.
Modelling is one of few jobs in which a 26-year-old can celebrate over 10 years at the top of her profession. When a scout discovered Coco Rocha in Vancouver, she was, by her own description, “a dorky 14-year-old who didn’t know left from right.” By 15, she had signed with her first agency; by 17, she’d landed an exclusive contract with career-making photographer Steven Meisel; and at 18, she Irish jigged her way down Jean Paul Gaultier’s runway—and onto the cover of Vogue, where she was named among the next generation of top models. Since then, she’s walked in over 300 shows and appeared on more than 100 magazine covers.
She’s also redefined modeldom for the millennial set. One of the first in her field to embrace social media, she’s made her voice as important as her supernaturally chiseled cheekbones for the benefit of almost 14 million followers, and she’s become a powerful advocate for the up-and-coming cohort of aspiring Cocos. Last year, she helped pass a New York labour law to improve working conditions for underage models. This month, she’ll add author to her résumé, with a 1,000-photo coffee table tome called Study of Pose. Even more impressively, she’s accomplished all of this on her own terms: you won’t see nudity or overt sexuality in any of her photos.
But beneath the powerhouse exterior, Rocha has always had an alluring oddball quality—a glimmer of that gawky teen, a flash of self-aware wit—that shines through in our shoot and behind-the-scenes video below at the Dream hotel in New York City. (Rocha wanted to capture the civilian encounters she’s had over the years while leaving and returning to hotel rooms, glammed up in full photo-shoot regalia.)
And so, to mark her industry-changing decade in fashion, we asked Rocha to trace her evolution from a naïve B.C. kid to a bona fide brand. Here, 10 lessons that shaped Coco Rocha.
Know Your Designers
One of my first runway jobs was opening a DKNY show. I was 18 and knew nothing about Donna Karan. But I must have done well because I was asked to open her second show—for her main line, Donna Karan—a few days later. I went to the fitting, and Donna was there, and she looked at me and said, “Mmm … Donna must love you.” She was referring to herself in the third person, but I thought, Oh, so this isn’t Donna. Donna must be her sister, who had me open the first show, therefore this must be Karan. For a year or two after, I assumed Donna and Karan were twin sisters who had two different lines. I only realized I was wrong when