TORONTO - Coco Rocha has graced the covers of countless fashion magazines and walked the runway for leading designers, but the Canadian supermodel dubbed "The Queen of Pose" faced a fresh test for her latest turn in front of the cameras.
The Toronto-born, Richmond, B.C.-raised Rocha teamed up with photographer Steven Sebring for the new book "Study of Pose" (Harper Design). In his introduction, Sebring wrote that his original concept was to capture 1,000 different expressive positions of one person, seeking to document "the fluid, ever-changing beauty of the ever-flexible human form."
The hefty tome features black-and-white images of Rocha clad in a leotard and tights, contorting her lithe frame in 1,000 unique poses.
Pictures of the homegrown beauty were captured by Sebring in his experimental 360-degree "Rig," which Rocha described as a darkened, dome-like room with 100 cameras. The photos were shot two years ago over the span of three days, with only Sebring and Rocha's husband, James Conran, present.
As the woman who has been a muse to designers like French fashion legend Jean Paul Gaultier — who wrote the book's foreword — Rocha admitted during the shooting of "Study of Pose" she needed a little inspiration herself at times to fan the creative flames.
"You try to kick out as many poses as you can. But then it gets to the point where you're like: 'I don't know if I have anything else,'" Rocha said in a recent phone interview from New York. "That's when I would have Steven and James... call out these inspirations or people in history. So if it was art history to film noir to film to pop culture, there would be sort of references, and I would kind of go on a riff on them. So: 'What is Michael Jackson to me? What is Grace Kelly?'
"Definitely, I did hit some road blocks. But what's interesting is that people looking at this can probably see those moments where you're like: 'Oh, I think this is a little Marilyn Monroe' or: 'Yeah, I can see some Grace Jones in that.'"
Rather than tagging each photo with a specific headline or name, Rocha said they opted instead to attach numbers to each image in hopes of having readers identify whom she was trying to pay homage to or to channel in her poses.
Prior to her fashionable rise to fame, Rocha had devoted much of her life to dance. In the book's introduction, Rocha describes herself as a "pale, skinny girl" who was just 14 when she was scouted at an Irish dance competition in Vancouver. Rocha credits her dance training in helping her modelling career, both in quelling her nerves and in approaching the catwalk and cameras by thinking of playing a character or being onstage.
In the foreword of "Study of Pose," Gaultier recalled Rocha "effortlessly leaping through the air, moving my clothes in a way that brought them to life" during the presentation of his Celtic-themed ready-to-wear line in 2007.
"I definitely think dance helped in the sense that I don't overthink it, I don't get too frustrated with what I'm doing. Just have fun with it, enjoy it," said the 26-year-old.
"We're muses. We're supposed to inspire people. So the book also is to inspire what the body can do. If you really look through all of those photos, you can start to notice the body can do a lot of things."
Rocha recently returned to "The Rig" to film the announcement that she and Conran are expecting their first child next spring. But even with her wealth of modelling experience, Rocha said she came away from the extended shoot for the book enriched with a fresh perspective on posing.
"You look at photos of models in stores and you go: 'I believe that she's playing that character. I get that story.' And it's from her facial expressions to how her body is moving — all of it so important," she said.
"After the book, I was definitely (thinking): 'Wow, there's a lot of things I didn't know I could do, and a lot of things I can still bring to the table.' And it was a fascinating experience."
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