One of the elite muses of famed fashion photographer Steven Meisel, supermodel CocoRocha captured the spotlight by walking runway shows and headlining campaigns for such powerhouses as Versace, Longchamp, Christian Lacroix, Chanel, and Lanvin. Discovered at an Irish dancing competition in her native Canada in the early 2000s, Rocha has enjoyed a meteoric rise and appeared on the covers of just about every fashion magazine from Vogue to Harper's Bazaar. An outspoken activist against eating disorders within the modeling industry, Rocha, 28, is married to the artist James Conran and has a year-old daughter named Ioni.
Last month, the couple introduced their newest collaboration — the CO+CO by Coco Rocha fashion collection —a play on both Coco's name and the combination of her first and the couple's last names. The new fashion line, created in partnership with Los Angeles-based Paragon Project, features urban-chic peek-a-boo dresses, adaptable layering sweaters, and modern suiting crafted from advanced athleisure-like fabrics with bold original prints designed by Conran that he describes as glitch art. "It's taking a digital print, and then purposefully corrupting it — adding a human hand to make it more natural," says Conran of the prints, which range from soft geometric triangles to a power pink blossom surrounded by a striking kaleidoscope swirl.
We recently caught up with Rocha for a first-hand look at her new endeavor.
LuxPOP! What made you want to design your own collection?
Coco Rocha: This has been in the works for over a year, so that's been a hard secret to keep. We have been offered to do licensing deals (in the past) that never interested us. I'm very hands-on, I want to be in the meetings, and Paragon was so excited with that idea. The girls who follow me on social media are business savvy, they're fashion forward, they're excited about fashion, and when they go to department stores, they can't find what they're looking for in our price range of $80 to $300 — and that frustrates them. So we realized, this is an empty space and we wanted to fill it.
LP!: Who taught you about fashion?
CR: I've always watched my designer friends like Zac Posen, Marissa Webb, Rebecca Minkoff, Christian Siriano — whether or not they knew I was watching them, but none of them knew I was actually working on CO+CO; I wanted it to speak for itself. When it was announced, it was really nice to see the encouragement.
LP!: Was this an easy endeavor for you?
CR: I wasn't sure of myself in the designer's seat. For example, when I presented my drawing for a skirt called "the Charlotte," James and the team at Paragon thought it was a really great idea, and said, "Let's do it." I thought you've got to be more secure with yourself, be more comfortable in the title you've been given, and if people don't like it, that's ok; if you really believe in it, make it happen. I feel like this is the skirt I will always go back to, and if I ever get to that spot again, "Remember that skirt."
LP!: What are the most interesting things you learned launching CO+CO?
CR: To avoid designing for yourself, because you can get stuck in a rut. There were certain things that our team would draw up and I would be like, "I don't think that's...but hold on — 'Would another girl love this; would she be obsessed with this?'"
(Adds JAMES Conran: It's also trying to separate the brand from yourself, because Coco has a tendency to lean toward the romantic; she likes her ruffles every now and then. It's definitely a part of what Coco enjoys, but it's not just, "These are my favorite things from all over the place thrown together," which is easy to do, but is not cohesive.)
LP!: What was it like to collaborate with your husband?
CR: Over my whole career, James has helped me, but he's gotten no credit; so for this project we want people to know that we're working together and this is something that we're both proud of and we're doing it as a team. Sometimes when we work together, someone will be like, "Yes, I love it" and another will say, "Oh, I don't know." Even in picking furniture, the one who is really adamant has most likely got something, so we go with that. And if we're both super adamant, then usually we're both on the same side.
LP!: Is this going to be something you do instead of modeling or just a second element to your career?
CR: Modeling will always be there. This is my passion now and I want it to do very well, but I'm still modeling and that will always be what I love.