Coco Rocha Talks Senhoa Jewelry Line, Karl Lagerfeld, and Dreams of a Topshop Collaboration

coco rocha

Photo: Nigel Barker for Senhoa

Talk about statement jewelry: Coco Rocha models her Senhoa Sophorn necklace, $165.

She’s a runway fixture, an advocate for model health, and a prolific blogger, but that’s not all Coco Rocha has up her sleeve, er, Dior cape.

The fashion influencer has teamed up with Senhoa, a jewelry brand that supports human rights, to create a collection of necklaces, earrings and bracelets handmade by survivors of exploitation in Cambodia.

Made from silver and gunmetal chain with Swarovski crystals, the pieces range from $65 to $195 and will benefit Senhoa’s community development projects.

FashionEtc caught up with Rocha to find out more about her penchant for design and commitment to charity—and why we just might see a Coco Rocha for Topshop line in her future …

How did this collaboration come about?

I first met Lisa, one of the founders of Senhoa at my wedding last year. Lisa was the girlfriend of one of our wedding videographers and the day before my wedding she explained to me the mission of the charity, how these girls have been saved from human trafficking and also gifted me with a beautiful bracelet that the girls had made which I ended up wearing the morning of my wedding. I was really impressed with the quality of their work and the story of where the girls came from so for the next year or so I tried to wear Senhoa pieces whenever I could at red carpet events in order to promote their cause. Earlier this year we came up with the idea of a jewelry collaboration being the most effective way I could help them further their mission and so I got started making sketches.

Why is human trafficking a cause that you want to lend your name to?

I've always been interested in helping children because I feel they are the most vulnerable members of our society. In Haiti, for example, we've been working with children who were made orphans by the earthquake. Once I heard that these girls rescued from human trafficking were as young as 4 years old it really tugged at my heart and I knew I wanted to do something. This isn't some massive charity with layer upon layer of bureaucracy. Its just a few women, like myself, helping about 50 girls. The amazing thing about the program is that once the girls grow up and are old enough to work they in turn help the younger ones. It’s a really inspiring circle to be a part of.

Many models try their hand at designing. Do you think it is something you'd like to do more of?

Models are in a privileged position—not only do we get to wear some of the most amazing pieces of clothing ever created, but we get to know the creative minds of the people who make them. I've sat with Zac Posen while he pins and gathers a dress, I've watched Karl Lagerfeld sketch up his next collection. You cant help but be inspired. For years now I've been sketching my own designs, I have books full of them. One day, when the right partner and situation comes along I'm sure I'd like to expand on my adventures in design.

What inspired your designs for this collaboration?

Its definitely 100% my personal taste in jewelry. I find I always go for the bold statement piece. I tried to create pieces that are both powerful and beautiful because that's really how I view the Senhoa girl who is being empowered through our program. Senhoa uses high quality materials like Swarovski crystals which not only add to the beauty of the pieces but help instill a feeling of self-worth within these girls who are now associating themselves with materials of high value. The price points are between $65 and $195, which I felt would be within reach for many of my friends and followers. I don't want this to be elitist or snobbish; I want everyone with the desire to be a part of it. Our slogan is "accessorize your conscience" because, unlike many purchases you might make for yourself, you don't need to feel guilty about this one! 100% of the proceeds go back to helping these girls.

Any favorite pieces in your own collection?

I find I've been wearing Chantrea and Chantha a lot prior to the launch but I have to say, Sophorn gets me the most comments [see why above!]. I went to an event at Saks Fifth Avenue tonight [November 1] wearing Sophorn and I literally had about a dozen people ask me where they could buy it—I was all too happy to tell them, of course.

coco rocha

Photo: Nigel Barker for Senhoa

Drop it like it's hot: Rocha rocks her shoulder-dusting Senhoa Phary earrings, $105.

What's your jewelry-wearing advice?

Don't try to wear too many pieces at once. And if you're wearing a complicated piece, pair it up with a simple outfit.

You've accomplished so much in the modeling world. What other goals do you have for your career?

I'm a model first and foremost but I'm really enjoying taking up these various side detours as they come along. I'm at a unique time in my life where many doors are open to me and I'd like to have a look through as many as I can. People always like to ask what's next for models as it's assumed we HAVE to move on one day. I really don't have a master plan for my career, I just do what feels right at the time and work with the people I like being around. Hopefully, I'll continue to do that into the future.

Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

My husband James and I made a documentary about our trip to Haiti earlier this year which we are premiering in the next month at Milk Studios. We're very excited to show our friends and family the work we've been doing down there and also how the money we've raised is being used. I think people are in for an eye-opener about what's really happening in Haiti.

You recently modeled for Karl Lagerfeld's Macy's collection ad campaign. What's your relationship with him like?

It’s always a fantastic experience to work with Karl. If you look at all the girls he shoots with, none of them are "flavors of the moment," they are all seasoned and professional. That should come as no surprise because Karl himself is the ultimate professional. He is so good at what he does, whatever he does, and he lets you be good at what you do. When we work together, I'll fly to Paris, sleep all day in my hotel, and then head to his studio as the sun goes down. He always shoots in the back of his book store in this amazing space lined from floor to ceilings in art books—literally hundreds of thousands of books everywhere. It's so inspiring.

What do you think of all the high-low fashion collaborations going on these days?

I love them. I don't know why this hasn't been happening for decades. I guess it’s because we live in a world of increased accessibility. If I want to know what my favorite movie star is having for lunch, I go find out on Twitter. So much is now in the reach of everyone and I think fashion should be the same way. Of course, there will always be very expensive things that some can’t afford, but something for everyone, that’s the new mantra.

Would you ever want to design a mass line for a retailer?

Absolutely. I'd love to design a line for someone like Topshop. I actually had dinner with Sir Philip Green the other week and completely wimped out on dropping some hints. Maybe he'll read this—Sir Philip?

What's your winter style mantra?

This year it’s all about the capes. Dior has an amazing one I'm saving my pennies for.