Even at first glance, it’s evident that Coco Rocha is a model. The 5’10 Canadian has a look so striking — and style to match — that she ends up conspicuous in just about whatever room she’s in. But it’s really with glance two, three, four and so on that Coco Rocha reveals herself as an utterly unique personality in her industry. With her partner in love, life and work, James Conran, she has developed a dynamic career that extends far beyond the limits of fashion. The husband and wife team sat down in their Westchester home and interviewed each other for NeueJournal, playfully discussing just what intra-marital collaboration is all about.
James Conran: We’re sitting in our living room in Westchester for this very formal conversation.
Coco Rocha: I know! This is giving me flashbacks to when you first asked me out…
JC: What a nightmare you made that.
CR: Well it was your fault. You had vaguely led me on with those cryptic text messages for a few days. So when it came down to asking me out, I made you do it the old fashion way.
JC: I’m surprised you didn’t tell me to call and ask your dad first! I remember you literally told me to stop texting you and to walk down to your house in the middle of the afternoon. That was a long walk from 86th street to 23rd!
CR: Well you could have taken a cab, but yes… and I told you to bring slushies from 7-Eleven.
JC: I remember when I got there you had me sit on your couch across from you, and you said something like, “So, James, what was it you wanted to ask me?” knowing full well that you were squeezing the drama out of the situation.
CR: It needed some drama! We had been friends for like three years, and you never made a move.
JC: Do you remember Peekaboo (Coco’s dog) randomly started freaking out and digging a hole in the couch next to my leg when I got there?
CR: It was painful, yes, I remember. But you finally spit it out, and now here we are six years later with baby Ioni sleeping in her chair.
JC: We are supposed to be talking about collaboration…
CR: Ioni being our greatest.
JC: We do make good babies. Or at least we made one amazing baby; I’m nervous the 2nd will be a monster.
CR: I’ve always liked working with you. Even as friends, before we dated, you painted murals in my place and ended up taking over the interior design on the whole project. Even then I felt like you understood me so well. I never had to over-explain or sell you on an idea.
JC: Working with your spouse is not for everyone, and I don’t think that it’s an indication of how much you do or don’t love each other. It just either works or it doesn’t.
CR: We never argue about work. My main argument with you is putting the toilet seat down.
JC: One day we will buy one of those fancy Japanese toilets that open and close themselves, and life will be perfect. I suppose it’s not something I ever aspired to do—to work with my wife—but I love it, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
CR: It’s been amazing relationship wise and career wise. I think you not being from the fashion world made a big difference. You challenged me and my agents to look at my career more creatively. So often this industry can kind of stick to its same old methods and ways, keeping the status quo, you know? I think about how you encouraged me to use social media back when literally no one in fashion even had a Facebook page. So many advised against it, but you pushed me to set my own path and to do things differently. I do feel bad that you had to give up your painting to focus on my career, though.
JC: I was doing commissioned murals, so there was travel, and you were traveling globally, as you still are. To keep painting murals would have meant hardly seeing each other.
CR: Plus I got to the point where I needed someone I could trust to manage me. I had been burnt by management, as so many girls are. You start making money at 15 or 16, and you just blindly trust that your management are honest and making good decisions with your money and with your career.
JC: I remember when I started managing your career. I knew I had no right to be a model manager. It was like someone who could barely ride a bike taking a Ferrari out for a test drive. But I asked a lot of questions and did my homework.
CR: You did, and now you know more about my job than I do!
JC: I feel like our five years as a married couple is like twenty years for other people because we’ve literally spent every waking hour together.
CR: Its true, and we have really honed in on a humor and aesthetic that is uniquely “Conran Family”.
JC: I do love that we get to work on creative projects together. The book was a huge one. It was just amazing to have an idea in mind and then see it materialize in the real world. The book was exactly what we had hoped it would be — that doesn’t happen often.
CR: Your name should have been on the spine along with Steven and mine. It was as much your baby as anyone’s.
JC: I do much better staying in the shadows.
CR: And I hate that because honestly I feel like the business we have built together, whether it be the book, the handbags, my modeling: It’s 50% you. You’ve put in the hard work too, but I’m always the face and the name that gets recognition.
JC: I don’t even think of it that way. I don’t think of you as separate to me. We’re one and the same.
CR: There’s no me without you.
JC: It’s like the right hand being jealous of the left hand.
CR: I think we just high-fived ourselves.
Photography: Manolo Campion for NeueJournal