Ahead of NYFW last month, the organization known as Fashinnovation held their semi-annual conference, highlighting the latest conversations in fashion, technology, sustainability, and empowerment. Guests included Arielle Charnas, Matt Scanlan, Cassandra Napoli, Tyler McCall, and supermodel/entrepreneur Coco Rocha.
A Model Representative
Coco Rocha is undeniably one of the greatest forces in the world of fashion and modeling. Starting from a young age she established herself as a skilled persona, adding character and life to the pieces of art she wore on the runway. (See Jean Paul Gaultier’s 2007 runway show where she did an Irish Jig down the runway) As one of the first to leverage social media to establish a personal brand, Rocha has used everything from MySpace to Google+ to blogging to Instagram to remain in control of her message. (She’s even on TikTok now, celebrating her first million view video after just 7 weeks.) Throughout her career she has pioneered a path beyond the norm from cutting edge tech (Lytro camera) to acting as her own photographer and a guest editor. She is more than a representative for the modeling industry, she is an educator and ally.
Modeling is Not Caviar and Catwalks
Imagine being stopped on the street and offered a job. That may sound incredible, a miracle, a dream come to life before your eyes. In reality, though, you have no preparation, no training, and no inkling of the financial gain (and, more likely, cost) for this “opportunity.” In addition there are several entities with a financial stake in your work and there is a great pressure to seem inordinately grateful for this chance. Modeling is job unlike any other. One of the biggest problems models face is getting paid. No other industry as a whole would tolerate this egregious oversight but, as an industry built on the youth, many take advantage of the seeming naivety of its main players. Models are often independent contractors so are not afforded the protection and support of an employee. This leaves them open to a swell of problems like signing contracts in a non-native language, fear of deportation, payment delays, non-disclosed barter arrangements, and more. Not to say there is not support behind these young working men and women. New York State has revised child labor laws to include models (which it did not until 2013.) Rocha, herself, was a big player in advocating for this. She is famously known as working with the Model Alliance and responsible for supporting legislation protecting underage models.
In addition, many publishers, such as Condé Nast, have developed a vendor code of conduct that dictates the treatment of and care for young models.
As the industry takes steps to provide for and do right by models, Coco Rocha is building strength and autonomy by going to the source: the models themselves. She has literally written the book on the art of pose and has mentored a number of up and coming stars. In July of 2018, Rocha expanded her teaching platform and created a model camp. This camp is a 4 day intensive course about the industry of modeling. Dynamic posing, photo movement, and the art of emoting are carefully taught alongside social media and branding, pitfalls and realities, and working with both agencies and clients. These four days provide invaluable incite to young models eager to pursue their dream while still feeling in control of their future. Though it is by no means comprehensive it is a very important step to models having control of their industry in a way the never had before.
Click here for Coco’s blue carpet interview at Fashinnovation