Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #14. Because Coco Rocha Isn’t a Poser
The 25-year-old Toronto-born Coco Rocha has starred in dozens of campaigns for labels like Hermès, Chanel and Dior, and could teach a master class in building a brand via social media (she’s active on 13 platforms, where she posts goofy shots with friends like Diane von Furstenberg, Solange Knowles and Mick Jagger). Elfin features and fierce physicality—Tyra Banks dubbed her the “queen of posing”—have set Rocha apart, as has her faith: she’s a devout Jehovah’s Witness with a long list of no-goes in her contract, including posing nude or with cigarettes, and engaging in campaigns with overtly sexual, political or religious themes. But at 15, she was pressured into doing a semi-nude shoot, an all-too-common story shared by many of her peers. That experience helped motivate her campaign for safeguards. Last October, six weeks after New York Fashion Week, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that protects models under 18 with the same health, financial and education requirements—limits on working hours, providing tutors if models miss more than three days of school—that govern other child performers, like actors and dancers. It also obligates agencies to provide a chaperone whenever models under age 16 are sent to a shoot or casting call. It was a major win for the Model Alliance, the two-year-old advocacy group, and for Rocha, its most famous champion. Young men and women working in a fast-paced, glamorous and very adult world have a new patron saint.