With her strong beliefs and her social-media savvy, Rocha—on Oxygen’s The Face—is a standout in her field
By Lindsay Silberman
The first thing that strikes you about Coco Rocha is, of course, her face. It has those perfect angles, the sharp, sculpted ones that seem to be a prerequisite for becoming a model. But before you can even process the rest of her otherworldly appearance—her flawless ivory complexion, her piercing blue eyes, her slim yet towering frame—you sense there’s a certain depth to her, something a bit more complex.
We’ve arranged to chat over lunch at a casual cafe-bakery in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. She arrives early, having taken the train in from New York’s Westchester County. “I honestly don’t mind it,” she says about taking public transportation. “People do it in any other city. It feels normal.” (She and her husband, muralist James Conran, moved there a year ago.)
As she enters the cafe, the 24-year-old doesn’t walk so much as float—a skill she picked up from her years on the runway. And if the people sitting at the tables near us don’t immediately recognize her, they probably whispered over their turkey sandwiches, “She has to be a model.” Today, the massive fur coat, black pants and stilettos she’s wearing are a dead giveaway.
Her first request is surprising: With autumn in the air, she’s in the mood for pumpkin pie today, so would it be OK if she had a slice for lunch? The Canadian-born model has recently wrapped production for Oxygen’s The Face, a new reality show (premiering February 12 at 9PM ET/PT) in which young women compete to become the face of Ulta Beauty. The show bills itself as giving a more realistic depiction of the challenges and demands of modeling than America’s Next Top Model—a series notorious for its jumping-out-of-planes and posing-with-snakes theatrics. Rocha serves as a mentor and coach for a team of four fledgling models, who compete against squads led by supermodels Naomi Campbell and Karolina Kurkova. Every week, each team competes to win an actual job.
It’s an opportunity the thoughtful, soft-spoken Rocha describes as “surreal,” and understandably so. Her career—gracing the cover of Vogue, walking the runways at the Paris, Milan and New York fashion shows, appearing in ad campaigns for Chanel and YSL—is unusual for someone like her. Rocha is a devout Jehovah’s Witness, as is her husband. “My faith is everything,” she declares. Raised by her mother, Rocha has been a Jehovah’s Witness her entire life, but she wasn’t baptized until 2009—the religion requires that individuals be old enough to make their own decisions before committing.