Coco Rocha on Marriage, Modeling and Her New Athleisure Line


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Coco Rocha spent a night at Spin, the table tennis social club in Manhattan, with her husband, James Conran.

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an Rong Xu for The New York Times

Coco Rocha emitted a staccato of excited yelps the other day as she volleyed Ping-Pong balls toward her husband, James Conran, at Spin, the table tennis social club on East 23rd Street in Manhattan.

Ms. Rocha, the 27-year-old model and social media star, had all she could do to contain herself, teetering on five-inch heels as she sent those balls whizzing in Mr. Conran’s direction. “Wow,” she said, exhaling mightily, “that one nearly clipped his ear.”

Mr. Conran didn’t balk. “Of the two of us, Coco is the competitive one,” he said, pointing out that his wife had studied dance as a girl, practicing her pliés until her calves ached. “She is driven. She will literally do something until she drops.”

“I always say it’s better if we’re on the same team,” he added.

They are, their good-natured banter flowing as easily as the beer on tap. They virtually tripped over each other, racing to complete each other’s sentences as they talked about their shared past and the joint projects cementing their relationship, not least a 10-month-old baby, Ioni James Conran, and their new fashion line, Co & Co.

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Mr. Conran creates the kinetic, computer-generated prints in the collection. But as Ms. Rocha confided: “Even when we design, we’ll show something to each other and discover we’ve been thinking, designing and drawing in the same way. I don’t know if it’s cute or sickening.”

They met in New York at a friend’s party, Ms. Rocha making her entrance fresh from a gala wearing an emerald green evening gown. “I thought: ‘Who is this girl? She’s so overdressed,’” Mr. Conran recalled. “She literally thinks she’s a princess.”

Ms. Rocha was anything but princess-y at Spin in a Co & Co top and jeans, her garb a splashily colorful contrast to Mr. Conran’s dark Balmain jacket and Rag & Bone jeans. She was so approachable, in fact, that a female guest was emboldened to saunter over, gushing delightedly: “Oh, I know you, don’t I? You play mah-jongg with my mother in Westchester.”

The couple lives on Westchester, but Spin, its noisily convivial atmosphere enhanced by the exotic cocktails being ferried around by cheery servers, has long been a relaxing home away from home.

It’s where Ms. Rocha and Mr. Conran, a muralist who doubles as her manager, stylist and social media strategist, kick back after taxing hours amping up her already towering social media presence, which includes a million followers on Instagram and 1.44 million on Twitter, as well as large audiences on Facebook and Snapchat.

An outspoken advocate of model’s rights, she also earned flurries of speaking engagements, a brief season on television with Naomi Campbell on “The Face,” and a book with the photographer Steven Sebring, “Study of Pose.”

Would the Co & Co collection, built on the kinds of relaxed athleisure looks that she wears off duty, have come into being were not for her online celebrity?

Not likely. “Now it’s even impossible to become a model and come from obscurity,” Mr. Conran said. “You have to arrive with an audience. We’ve heard that to go to certain castings, you have to start with anything from a 100,000 to a million or more followers. That’s the world we live in now.”

Fourteen years ago, when Ms. Rocha arrived on the scene, “we all looked alike and we were all disposable,” she said. Injecting a dollop of personality into that aridly anonymous landscape seemed a tall order. “We were told that posting on Twitter about brushing your teeth takes away the mystery,” Mr. Conran added.

But, as Ms. Rocha was prompt to chime in, “It also humanizes you.”

As do the myriad snapshots of their baby she has been routinely posting on Instagram, exposing her daughter to what some may see as an inappropriate scrutiny.

If that’s the case, so be it. “If we didn’t post those pictures, the paparazzi would have been hunting her down,” Ms. Rocha said.

Intent on exerting the kind of image control that was all but unthinkable a scant half-dozen years ago, the couple even shared a video of their wedding day.

“In the end,” Ms. Rocha said evenly, “you saw only what I wanted you to see.”

Correction: February 9, 2016

An earlier version of this article misidentified where Coco Rocha and her husband live. They live in Westchester, not Long Island.



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