Coco Rocha: Coco in Motion

Catwalk superstar Coco Rocha has a flair for the dramatic on the runway—and off.

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Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 11/14/2008
But whereas Evangelista was speaking from ego, Rocha’s motives are anything but. “I’m interested in teaching girls about being aware of their health and portraying a good role model to show them that, even though modeling—or any industry— can be hard, you can definitely strive to it,” she says.

Her interest in positively impacting the lives of young women is personal. Rocha’s mother is a flight attendant, and as a child, she spent a lot of time in the company of babysitters and day care centers, she says. “I always appreciated when our big buddies came in and we really looked up to them,” she remembers. “Now I want to be a big buddy.” To that end, Rocha, who now lives in New York City, is involved with the Children’s Aid Society, giving speeches and dance demonstrations for the kids.
She’s equally guileless in her approach to work. Despite the time-honored tradition of models beating down a path to Hollywood, Rocha insists she has no master plan to transition from the catwalk to the red carpet. “I don’t plan my future very far off. I don’t plan tomorrow, because I don’t even know what today holds,” she says. “Acting? We’ll see. Modeling is taking up my plate right now, so we’ll see if there’s room for dessert.”

Rocha speaks in a clipped tone punctuated with frequent giggles. When asked to describe her personality, she knits her brow. “I don’t know,” she trills, then pauses before continuing. “I like to have fun. There’s no point in working if you don’t like it.”

Her favorite kind of shoot or fashion show is one that lets Coco be Coco. “I like shows that have attitude, that ask us to give it our all. Really, all we do is walk, so why not let us do something unique?” she says. Quotidian shoots are equally as boring. “Don’t book me if you want plain Jane. I seem to overpose sometimes, which can be a little bad,” she laughs, “but that’s just the nature of the game.”

Thus far, she’s appeared in ad campaigns for Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Phi, Nicole Farhi and Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, for whom she serves as the face. A stellar roster like that has enabled Rocha to scale back on her show schedule for fashion week. Though in season’s past she’s done as many as 36 shows in New York alone, she did about 14 this go-around, two in Milan (Dolce & Gabbana and Versace) and four in Paris, including Chanel and Gaultier. “I don’t need to overdo it,” she shrugs. “I like to work with the [designers] who I have a good relationship with. You believe in what they’re doing and they respect having you.”

At heart, Rocha remains unaffected by her glam environs. A tomboy at heart, she jumps at the opportunity to hike, bike or climb whenever she has a couple of days off. A  teetotaler, her favorite way to unwind is with a swirl of frozen yogurt, her maltipoo, Peek-a-Boo, tucked in her lap. Gaultier credits her dance background with enabling Rocha to keep her feet planted on terra firma. “She’s a dancer and she has the dancer’s discipline,” he says. “Dancers are always ready to push themselves to the limit. Nothing is too complicated for Coco, and she’s always ready to try something special.”

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