Coco Rocha, after 1000 poses, reposes for a conversation – Los Angeles Times

In her decade-long career, Coco Rocha has danced down runways, leaped through the pages of fashion magazines and pranced across national TV ads.

All of which makes her the rarest of top models: one whose lively, often humorous personality is allowed to take center stage. In the process, the Canadian-born 26-year-old has also gained a reputation as the fastest poser in the industry, a talent that’s on full display in “Study of Pose: 1,000 Poses by Coco Rocha” (Harper Design; $60), a new book collaboration with the photographer Steven Sebring.

Rocha, who is expecting her first child with husband-manager James Conran early next year, was ensconced on a high floor of Hong Kong’s luxe Peninsula Hotel overlooking Victoria Harbour when we interrupted her breakfast for a phone chat.

There really are 1,000 poses in the book. Who came up with all of them and were they planned beforehand, storybook style, or was it spontaneous?

No, we didn’t storybook it at all. I just jumped around for three days straight, 10 hours a day. We also referenced lots of images from history, art and pop culture: Elvis, Charlie Chaplin, Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” Grace Kelly.

You’re thin, of course, but you look healthy in the photos. How do you stay in shape?

Well, it’s partly due to genetics — so thanks, Mommy and Daddy! [Laughs] But I’m not a workout fanatic; I don’t, like, go to the gym or go boxing or anything, really. I mean, once in a while I’ll go for a walk and maybe do a little run, but I’m just an active person — I move around a lot. And when I’m working, I give 110%, that’s what I do. If I’m not sweating at work, I’m not doing my job! Besides, where I live, there aren’t any gyms nearby anyway, so ….

You’re referring to the leafy suburbs an hour north of Manhattan, an unexpected location for a young model’s digs. What’s the appeal?

I’m Canadian girl who lived in suburbia growing up, so I like it. Living in Manhattan was a lot of fun for a few years, but then it got a little overwhelming. You have a hard time finding a normal life there because you’re working in the city and you go home and you’re still in the city and then you go out at night and you’re in the city … it can get to be too much. When I’m in the city, I work, but then I go home to my husband and relax. I like to watch TV, cook and wear my comfortable pajamas.

You were an early user of social media. Do you think it’s helped you to stay on top for nearly 10 years?

I jumped on it right away — it’s great to take nice photos, I’m very grateful for it, but there’s more to me than that. Twitter, Instagram, blogging — we might have 12 different platforms we use now. It gives me the chance to have my own voice, to get across my point of view, to show my personality. A lot of people have their publicists or someone else do it for them, but I do it myself. Even though it’s really, really time-consuming, if you’re your own business, it’s important to do. Social media is a necessary tool.

As someone who’s been a muse — to photographers, designers, makeup artists — can you explain what that entails?

Jean Paul Gaultier once told me most of his muses were people he saw on the street. He’d become fascinated by everything they did, from the way they walked to how they chewed gum. So a muse is meant to inspire the designer to the point where he knows why he does what he does. A few designers have used the word for me, and it’s a beautiful honor. It’s usually because you have a special bond, maybe the kind of relationship you might feel with a father.

You’ve been outspoken about the exploitation of young models in the industry. Has that gotten any better? And has the fact that someone like Kate Upton can appear on Vogue mean the industry is becoming less weight-obsessed?

Young models definitely still feel pressure to look a certain way, but there have been some changes in the past few years. The biggest is that underage models in New York state are now protected [Rocha campaigned for the law that limits working hours and calls for mandatory financial trusts, among other things]. And Kate Upton on fashion covers is definitely a good thing — it shows that the public has a voice in what they want to see. And I also have to say that in my 10-year span, there’s more diversity in the industry now than ever before.

Who are your role model models?

Iman and Cindy Crawford, because both are such smart businesswomen. Iman would go to shoots early on and they didn’t have cosmetics for her skin type; they would literally tell her they didn’t have anything to use, so she developed her own. She’s one of the main reasons why cosmetics companies now cover such a broad range of skin types. And Cindy, you know, she was the sporty girl, the healthy girl; she’d just say no to doing a photo shoot for cigarettes. She branded herself and allowed herself to do what she wanted, like hosting MTV’s “House of Style.” She made it OK for models to be heard and not just seen.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times


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