By Tomboy KC | Photography by Alyssa Greenberg
At a time when the conversation constantly turns to whether women really can have it all, Coco Rocha is adding two more titles to her bio: fashion designer and Mom. Out to prove that having it all is more about balancing it all, the model turned designer is living the life with her new fashion line, CO+CO, and a bustling toddler in tow.
We met up with her at the Dream in New York to chat all things CO+CO, motherhood, and what it’s like crossing over into the design side of the industry.
TKC: If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times. But we love CO+CO. Why a fashion line? Why now?
CR: 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. You’re basically handing over your identity for someone else to interpret. That was never appealing to me, I wanted to be part of something from the ground up. When my partners came and asked me if I wanted to do this, I felt like it was the right people to partner with and the right time. 2016 is a difficult year to start a brand. Retail is down in general, but its an opportunity for me and my new brand to innovate and to think outside the box. I think there is a great advantage to being small and nimble right now, even amongst giant brands. CO+CO can shift lanes and gears very easily. I hope CO+CO will continue to be forward thinking, not only in the way we present and sell the clothing, but also in terms of manufacturing. Right now are using a lot of heat sealed seams, scuba material, birds eye mesh-for a very clean and minimal aesthetic. We’ve also played around a lot with glitch art, which drew on that tech-meets-fashion motif.
TKC: How much of the design process were you involved in? How was your experience flipping to the design side of the industry?
CR: James my husband and I are so hands on and are involved in every part of the company! We can’t help ourselves. From a design perspective, it helps that James background is an artist. He can help me bring my ideas to life on paper, before they become a reality in the clothing. He and I are also very interested in the business side of fashion and we meet with the various buyers from stores, as well as magazines to explain the line and get feedback. Its a different side to the industry than we are used to, but we are learning quickly. CO+CO is very much a family business, but we do have a great supportive team of people who advise us. We’re all very lucky to have one another.
TKC: Was there any part of you that was nervous to share your designs with the public?
CR: I was super nervous. The line is very specific and very much a niche of the clothing I like to wear. I wondered if people would understand my point of view or take me seriously. There is a huge stereotype for models, that they are only good at one thing and that’s standing there and taking pretty pictures. I know models who have gone through med school, models who became lawyers. Why can’t a model also be a designer?
TKC: How did you come up with the names for each of the pieces? Do they have any significance?
CR: We come up with the motifs and guidelines for aesthetics for each season and then we work within those parameters. Its important to me that the pieces all work together well, that they are not just a disparate collection of things I find cool. I think today’s consumer wants to be able to mix and match, change things up.
TKC: Do you have a favorite piece?
CR: We have a skirt that’s my favorite piece for SS16. I remember it was one of the first pieces I sketched out, and right after I showed it to the team I had this huge feeling of self doubt. They told me they loved it and we took it into production. Its now become one of our best sellers so I think I learnt a lot of confidence as a designer, to just go with my instincts and not doubt myself so much.
TKC: How did you arrive at the name?
CR: Its called CO+CO because obviously its a play on my first name, Coco, but its also a nod to the fact that this is a design partnership between myself and my husband James. His last name is Conran so its Coco + Conran shortened to CO+CO.
TKC: All of this while being a mom – arguably the hardest job in the world. Any advice for moms out there doing the balancing act?
CR: I think its important for new moms to know that they don’t have to change who they are just because they gave birth. You don’t have to dress a certain way to be a new mom, you can still be you. Schedules are so important for little ones, and for the moms too. It helps you figure out when you can have time for yourself and make sense of the insanity that can be the first 6 months of having a new born.
TKC: In your non work life, is there a particular designer or look that you tend to favor?
CR: Thats so hard to say! I work with so many designers and I think there is a time and place for everything. My closet is nearly 50% CO+CO right now but I also wear a lot of Marissa Webb in my day to day life as well as Diesel Black Gold.
TKC: On the flipside, are there any trends that you absolutely loathe?
CR: I’m not a big fan of trends but I’ve also learnt to never say never. The thing you detest today you will be wearing in a few years. Trends tend to recycle themselves. I’m sure there were girls 10 years ago who said they would NEVER wear a choker again, now we can’t get enough of them!
TKC: If you could only buy one item this Fall, what would it be?
CR: We have an amazing fall jacket coming out from CO+CO that I can’t wait to wear. Its sort of like this super luxe dressing gown with silk panels and a felt-like material. Its so luxurious and comfy.
TKC: Name one beauty product you couldn’t live without.
CR: Right now I’m in the south of France and I could not live without my sun screen. As a pale Irish girl I would literally sizzle in the sun without it.
TKC: What is the lost song you had playing on your iPod/iPhone?
CR: “Do it, Try it” by M83’s has been on repeat!
TKC: Favorite emoji?
CR: I probably overuse the lipstick kiss one…
TKC: Coffee or tea?
CR: Coffee, every morning! It’s a must.
TKC: Mascara or Eyeliner?
CR: Both! But if I had to pick one, mascara.
TKC: Instagram or twitter?
CR: I’m all about visual so I’d lean towards Instagram, but these days twitter and instagram are looking more and more similar.
TKC: In high school you would have been voted most likely to…
CR: Be a dance teacher.