A few weeks ago I received an invite for the unveiling of CO + CO the new fashion line by Canadian Supermodel Coco Rocha and her husband, artist James Conran. The line was unique, fun and I could actually see myself wearing all the pieces. Best of all after the show at the cocktail party I got to catch up with Coco who is still as down to earth as the first time I interviewed her many years ago. We had a good laugh about our trip to Dave and Busters where we played games and she polished off the deep-fired pickles – yes she eats fried food and looks that gorgeous! …
You are a model, a social media sensation, a television personality and now a designer, what inspires you everyday?
I’m inspired by the cities I’ve called home for the last 15 years, London, Paris and New York, I’m inspired by the people I work with in those cities and the industry I’ve sort of been “raised in”. It has been amazing to sit and watch masters in their field whether it is photographers, designers, makeup artists, hair dressers, do their job better than anyone else on earth. Their creativity is contagious.
Take us back, how did you get your start in the fashion industry?
Growing up I had no aspirations to be a high fashion model that was the furthest thing from my mind. A man who turned out to be a model scout with a daughter who also danced first scouted me at a random Irish dance competition in Canada. I thought it was a big joke; I was the last person that would be “model material”. From a young age I actually thought that I would become a dance teacher or something to do with dance. The first major modeling job that I had was being on the cover of the March 2006 issue of Vogue Italia shot by the legendary photographer Steven Meisel, that was the first big moment for me.
What has been your most exciting experience as a model?
I’ve had more than I can count! One person who always pops up as I think back over my years modeling is Jean Paul Gaultier who has given me quite a few of my most memorable experiences on the runway. He loves to create a performance and, after meeting him at 17 I think he saw in me a willing and eager young model always up for a new challenge. One year he dressed me as a mermaid with my legs bound together into a fishtail and I hopped down the runway on crutches made of coral. Half the way down I was supposed to pull a zipper to release my legs, but the zipper didn’t work so I pushed my long nail into the fish tale and ripped it bottom to top. Another time he asked me to Irish dance down his runway to Scottish highland bagpipes. It was a little known skill I had at the time but Vogue later dubbed it the “Coco Moment” and from then on I was forever known as Coco, the Irish dancing model.
Was designing fashion something that was inspired by your modeling?
It was absolutely inspired by my modeling and all that I’ve taken in over those years. Being around great designers, seeing how they work, seeing what makes for great fabrics and fabrication, For many years, I have been offered to license my name but that’s never interested me because licensing can be just a phone call and a signature. I really wanted to be a part of this from the ground up. When Paragon Project came and asked me if I wanted to partner, I felt like it was the right partnership, and it was the right time.
What makes CO + CO unique from what’s out there?
We’re calling it street wear meets sports-chic. I thought a lot about what was missing in the market before we started designing at CO+CO. I realized that in this $80 to $300 price range, a girl that shops at her local department store can really only find boho or “hipster” looks. It is really hard for her to find clean, architectural pieces like she sees in high fashion magazines and runway shows. I wanted to offer girls an alternative at a reasonable price point but with amazing fabrics and fabrication.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love the variety. I’m never doing the same thing twice, hardly ever in the same place twice. It keeps life very interesting.
What has life taught you so far? The best career advice you have received…
My favorite saying is “It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice”