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Catwalk superstar Coco Rocha has a flair for the dramatic on the runway—and off.
Whoever said girls can have either killer looks or a great personality never met Coco Rocha.
Not so long ago, Rocha was just your average Irish-dancing, nature-loving Canadian teenager. But after being scouted at a dance competition— an event seemingly so preposterous it provoked uncontrollable mirth in Rocha and her friends at the time—the 20-year-old now dominates modeling’s upper echelons.
No wonder. In addition to a striking face that the camera adores, Rocha thrums with energy. She doesn’t walk down a runway. She dances. She doesn’t pose for a picture. She creates characters. Her versatility and carefree individualism have enabled her to cross from the catwalk to fashion editorial to beauty advertising seemingly effortlessly and become a darling of fashion-world ringleaders such as Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, photographer Steven Meisel and designer Jean Paul Gaultier.
“I love women with personality, and she’s a perfect example,” says Gaultier, whose runway Rocha can often be found—literally—dancing down. “She can project something special when she’s doing a show—the clothes are given another dimension. She can adapt and change, but at the same time, she always stays Coco.”
Bringing her personality to bear on her work has been a conscious decision for Rocha. “There are enough models out there who are gorgeous and good looking, but have nothing to bring,” she says. “They can take good pictures, but after that, when you take the pictures, what do you have to say for yourself?”
Rocha herself has a lot to say—and she’s not afraid to say it, as she proved when she spoke at a Council of Fashion Designers of America forum regarding models and weight. “I had been opening the subject more and more in interviews, and Anna Wintour got wind of it and asked me to be part of this,” Rocha says. “Every girl has a story. My speech was my own experiences and what people have told me, and ideas and options that people could work on.” Some of her suggestions included convincing designers to hire larger fit models and provide healthier food backstage.
During her speech, Rocha also related being told once that “the look this year is anorexia, and even though we don’t want you to be anorexic, we want you to look it,” a quote that has become almost as famous as that of another Canadian supermodel, Linda Evangelista, who quipped in her heyday that she and her sister supes didn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day.