Conversations with Coco

coco-Mitchell_07With the beginning of a New Year and with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on the horizon, our Creative Liaison Coco Mitchell gives timely advice on core-strength training, beauty and a healthy lifestyle. As always, Coco Mitchell has her pulse on current trends and industry standards.  With great care and intelligence, Coco Mitchell generously imparts her pearls of wisdom to all who are open to her unique understanding of the fashion industry.

I had a great season this Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. However, I had to cancel Milan Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week because I had such  pain in my lower back.   What to do?

—Can’t Walk

Coco Mitchell: Jenel Stevens, Founder and President of Prowess Private Trainer Inc., suggest you do plenty of core strengthening exercises.  Perhaps, your back troubles stem from a weak core. Instead of doing stomach crunches, Jenel Stevens suggest you perform planks. The plank is an isometric core strength exercise that involves maintaining a position for extended periods of time. The most common plank is the front plank that is held in a push-up position with the body’s weight maintained on forearms, elbows, and toes. The plank strengthens the abdominals, back, and shoulders. With high planks the push-up position is maintained on your forearms and the low planks position is maintained on your elbows. (Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders.) Either way, make sure you squeeze your butt muscles and tighten your abs.      

I have recently signed with IMG Models. I’m married and I have a two-year old baby. If I tell my agency, do you think they will treat me differently because I’m married with a young child?  What do you think?

—Married Lady

 Coco Mitchell: In the beginning of my career, if you were married or had a boyfriend, the “bookers” would pass you over for girls they felt needed more help financially. Thank God times have changed!  Gisele Bundchen, Liya Kebede, Natalia Vodianova, Doutzen Kroes, and Jordan Dunn are just a few examples of top models that have children and/or a married life.

Use the wonderful things that you are experiencing with your husband and child to inspire you and feed your creativity.  Remember, a successful model learns to fuel her creativity with the beauty around her. Your husband and child are a blessing!!  Enter the New Year with gratitude, celebrating your blessings!!

I know that eating complex carbohydrates like bread, rice, potatoes and pasta can cause weight gain. Are there any other adverse affects complex carbs might have on my body?

—Carb Overload 

Coco Mitchell:  You are correct, complex carbs can cause weight gain but they can also have a deleterious effect on your teeth. Dr. Debra Glassman D.D.S says, “that when we eat these foods our saliva enzymes breaks [complex carbs] down into sugars that enhance acids that form around our teeth. These acids cause cavities and erode our enamel. When eating these foods, a great remedy to eliminate acids from around our teeth is to swish our mouths vigorously with water and swallow (if you’re not near a sink). This removes lingering food particles from between teeth.”

Remember, it is important to maintain your weight, but you will not get any beauty campaigns if you have bad or discolored teeth. 

Conversations with Coco

Coco_Mitchell_15With Fashion Weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris completed, and Couture Week and the fall 2014 ready-to-wear fashion weeks just on the horizon, Coco Mitchell gives a nuanced and a layered perspective on what’s currently required for working models. With great care and intelligence, Coco Mitchell generously imparts her pearls of wisdom.

In this installation, Coco gives advice on diet, runway walks, and what makes a Supermodel.

I have been on several go-sees and I realize most of the girls are a lot thinner than I am, I eat healthy but I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. What to do?

—Not thin enough

Coco Mitchell: Cut out all products that contain flour (cakes, cookies, pancake cakes, bread and pasta). Next, cut out rice, potatoes and corn (including popcorn) and cut down your salt intake by not eating any kind of chips.  By eliminating these products you should drop some pounds.

My agency loves my walk but they think I look too sweet. How do I bring out my “inner fierce”?

—Fierce deficiency

Coco Mitchell:  When you are on the runway, you have to be more commanding. I suggest you focus be directed total toward the photographers or the wall in front of you, walking with purpose in every step making every move definite.  I achieve a focus fierce walk by taking deep breaths through my nose (without raising m chest) and slowly exhaling (through a slightly open mouth), always mentally giving thanks for the incredible opportunities afforded you.

Hi Coco, I am a black model and I walked in 10 shows during New York

Fashion Week. I want to walk in more shows, not just in NYC, but globally. Any advice?

—Striving for more

Coco Mitchell:  I saw you in a couple of shows and you definitely stood out. I suggest not to rests on your recent success. Keep striving to be better. Continue to ask yourself is this good enough? What do I need to do to arrive at Supermodel status? With careful reflection and study I am sure you will conquer not only New York, but also have success in other fashion capitals.

What makes a model a Supermodel?

—Supermodel aspirations

Coco Mitchell: I believe having interests outside of modeling gives a model depth and perspective. Through dance lessons, acting lessons, old movies, museum visits and art and multi-media art installations, a model gets to experience the world and other cultures, even if she/he hasn’t traveled to those places. Remember, designers get inspiration from a wide range of influences, and in order to be able to facilitate their vision, it is important for a model to be aware of those influences. A Supermodel is more than a great beauty. A Supermodel evokes mood, and above all sells product.

Coco Mitchell Chats with Fitness Guru Oscar Smith

Coco_5781On the eve of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, industry professionals scramble to get in those last few show requests before the big day on September 5. While you are frantically getting in requests and attempting to match the right ensemble with the right accessories, don’t forget everything looks better on a fit body. And though MBFW is just a day away, you can still maximize your time, look slimmer and get more fit with the right workout.

Supermodel Coco Mitchell sat down and exercised with fitness guru Oscar Smith. Oscar Smith has trained everyone from Selita Ebanks to Karolina Kurkova to a slew of Victoria Secret’s Models. In between getting his celebrity clients and supermodels in shape, Oscar gave a few workout tips to our creative liaison Coco Mitchell at his gym, O-Diesel.

Go to the video section on the home page and listen to Coco Mitchell’s brilliant and thought provoking interview with Oscar Smith.

 

Conversations with Coco

coco-mitchell-5Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is less than a month away, and as Fashion Reverie prepares to give it readers exciting and comprehensive coverage, Coco Mitchell gives much needed advice and encouragement to models who are prepping for all the castings and hustle and bustle that accompanies Fashion Week.

Always aware of what the industry currently requires, Coco Mitchell with great care and intelligence generously imparts her pearls of wisdom. In this installation, Coco gives advice on runway walks, model prep, and personal style.

Coco, I know you are a supermodel from the 80’s and 90’s, when models ruled the world. Nowadays, most of the fashion magazines are filled with celebrities. Where do I find inspiration for acceptable, fashionable, personal style?

—Perplexed

Coco Mitchell: There is an amazing site called models.com that can give you a sense of what is fashionable and assist you in developing your own personal style as a model. Check out the 50 top models’ link. Keep an open mind. Be color blind when you look at the models; after all you’re looking for style. A model’s style is usually paired down—no earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and rings, a least not all at the same time. A model must inspire as well as be a blank canvas.

Coco, I want to come to New York City and get signed with a modeling agency. What is the first thing you suggest I do prior to coming to New York York City?

—Hopeful

Coco Mitchell: I am a firm believer in preparation. You need pictures. The biggest mistake that most aspiring models make is using a photographer whose work is not current or up to par. Remember, modeling agencies will not blame the photographer for the bad images, they will hold you accountable as a model who is not prepared to work in a major fashion market.

Do your homework and carefully study magazines that use only models. Do not imitate or emulate celebrities that are on the covers or in the pages of these fashion publications. Celebrities are not models and not expected to perform as such.

Secondly, study the “feeling or attitude” you get from each shotsexy, sultry, piercing, questioning, etc. Ask yourself what you have to do to achieve that look. What is the model thinking about when they emote. Emotion is not just in the face. Look at the total feeling from head to toe, from shoulders to fingertips; even examine the position of the hands and feet.

All this reflection and examination takes time. Have a friend help you practice until your modeling is more organic and natural, like dancing. Once you are confident that you can deliver, find the right photographer. Ask to see the photographer’s work. You know what to do. So, don’t settle!!
Miss Coco, I do a lot of shows. Everyone says I have a fierce walk, but how do I know if I have what it takes to do the shows in New York, Milan, and Paris?

Fierce Walker

Coco MitchellIt has been my experience when training a model that already has some experience that sometimes modifying or tweaking the walk can be a challenge because some models believe their walk is appropriate for every runway show or designer.  Be aware the runway walks should evolve or be adjusted depending on the show or designer.

If you are serious, and you sound like you are, go and look at the shows on youtube.com from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week fall/winter 2013, Milan Fashion Week fall/winter 2013, and Paris Fashion Week fall/winter 2013. Ask yourself “do I fit into the lineup of these shows, and is my walk current and reflects the walk in these shows”? Nowadays, casting agents are not looking for “signature walks.” They want a very cohesive show.

If you  feel you need to tweak your runway walk, use the runway videos on youtube.com as your sounding board, so to speak, and Practice, Practice, Practice !!!

 



 

 

Conversations with Coco

Coco_Mitchell_15With New York Fashion Week just on the horizon, modeling agencies are busy signing new models and preparing comp cards and look books and for their new recruits, as well as keeping their stable of established models portfolio’s fresh and current. With all the hustle and bustle that happens in preparation for New York Fashion Week, Coco Mitchell gives much needed advice and encouragement to young models who always seek her wizened counsel.

Always aware of what the industry currently requires for new models, Coco Mitchell with great care and intelligence generously imparts her pearls of wisdom. In this installation, Coco gives advice on dressing for go-sees, casting protocol, and pushing your career to the next level.

Hi, Miss Coco, I’m 14 years old and when I go on castings the other girls are always asking me questions. Should I answer?

Young and Questioning

 Coco: I think you should respond if the other models are asking you which modeling management agency you are signed with. Respond honestly and candidly if they ask you questions about who shot the looks in your portfolio or about the fashion business in general.

Being honest and positive is a great way to make friends. Plus, some models are not happy with their agency and are looking to change management. I would stay away from anything too personal.

However, remember castings are all about you booking the job and not a social get-together. Keep conversation and chatter to a minimum!!

 

When going on go-sees do I have to dress in the designer’s style?

—Style Revamp

Coco: When going on go-sees I believe you should be acquainted with the designer’s style; however, no one will expect a new model to wear the designer’s clothing or brand at the go-see. (That comes after you start making money.)  Consider that a lot of these brands are expensive, and you are not rolling in cash, yet.

I suggest that you be well groomed—pedicure/manicure, bikini, under arms, and legs hairless. Be confident and do some research on that designer/brand before the go-see. Remember, knowledge is power!!

 

Coco, my agent said she was going to send me to work in Paris, but she hasn’t brought it up again. Do you think she changed her mind?

—Brianna

Coco: Do not be afraid of your agent. Remember, she works for you!! After all, the agency does take 20% of your earned income.

That said; be as bubbly and as charming as you can be and say “I can’t wait to go to Paris!! Is there something I should be doing to get ready?” Agencies appreciate models that are proactive and ambitious. Though you are signed and have a agent, this is your career. If working in Paris is your goal, put the wheels in motion!!

You can submit your questions and comments to Coco Mitchell at coco.mitchell@fashionreverie.com.

 




Conversations with Coco

Coco_Mitchell_08In this third installation, supermodel Coco Mitchell gives advice to young models about personality, charm and evoking mood and feeling in front of the camera. Always aware of what the industry currently requires for new models, Coco Mitchell with great care and intelligence imparts her pearls of wisdom. She truly  is a benevolent keeper of the secrets!!

 

Dear Ms. Coco,

I’ve been trying to launch my modeling career for a year now. I keep hearing I need personality. I HAVE PERSONALITY!!!  But for some reason my personality is not coming through. I need some clarity. HELP!!

Perplexed

Coco Mitchell: It’s not about not having personality because we all have personality. Our personalities evolve through our experiences. It’s obvious that you are frustrated and that part of your personality should never be shown to the public. Like it or not, as a working model you are now a public figure. The personality you need is bigger and brighter than what you think.

I believe that you can attain this bigger, brighter personality by first putting aside your feelings of frustration and humbling yourself. Become excited about life the way child anticipates receiving a gift or a toy or going to Disneyland. That child sees himself already on the rides at Disneyland. That child will turn on the charm, too. Stir up that excited, anticipating and charming child inside!

Don’t let go of your dream. Eventually that light of excited anticipation will turn into charm and it will be there all the time. Clients, friends, and even strangers will be drawn to it. Practice the art of anticipation.

Good luck!!

 

Hello Coco:

I’m a male model and I need to know what is posing and how can I improve my technique?

 —Southern Comfort

Coco Mitchell: Posing is not what it was in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or even the 90’s. Sometimes, at a photo shoot the designer or the photographer will tell you what they want; but not always. Currently, in the industry for male models it is more about emoting than the positioning of your body. Emoting is projecting on the outside what you’re thinking, and your thoughts and mood you are evoking will determine how you will position your body. In other words, you become an actor projecting through the photographic  image to the consumer “you will feel like this when you wear these clothes.”

This is a very powerful position to be in. Practice in the mirror. Take pictures of yourself. Do free tests with a variety of photographers—always know beforehand what the photographer has in mind.

Practice!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

Conversations with Coco

Fashion Reverie has quickly become one of the premier destinations for all things fashion and as a part of Fashion Reverie’s initiative to facilitate more interactivity with our viewing audience Fashion Reverie has established a bi-weekly question and answer segment with our esteemed colleague, supermodel Coco Mitchell. Every two weeks Coco Mitchell will answer 3 to 4 questions from our viewers about fashion, modeling, and life.

In this first installation, Coco Mitchell responds to questions about starting a modeling career, good skincare, and transitioning from college into the world of work.

 

Question: If someone lives in a small town and wants to be a fashion model what can she or he do to make it work for them? Small Town Girl

Coco Mitchell: If you live in a small town and aspire to be a fashion model you can start preparing yourself where you are.  Here are a couple things you can do in your small town before you hit the big time.

1) Buy a pair of high heels and practice walking in them. Remember, you will have to walk in high heels and all types of crazy shoes on international runways.

2) Use the internet to familiarize yourself with what is currently going on in the fashion industry. You Tube is a great resource to view all the current fashion weeks in New York, Paris, Milan, London, and other international cities.  You will even find videos of me walking in some shows. Wink, wink!!

3) Purchase fashion magazines (Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Marie Claire),  and if you can afford it, subscribe to a few.  Don’t just peruse the beautiful clothing; study each issue from cover to back. Learn the current trends and observe the styling in each editorial. And most importantly, study the attitude and poses of each model from head to toe.  Remember, an educated model is a working model!!

4) Work on your personal style. Industry models look like models all the time, even if they are doing laundry. Lucky Magazine is a good source on style and ANTM’s Aminat Ayinde gives good advice in her recent Fashion Reverie interview.

5) See if there are any local modeling agencies where you can get experience. That said; never, ever pay for photos upfront at a local agency. Reputable agencies only subtract for portfolio development based on paid assignments, not prior to signing or before models have received paid work. If the local agency request funds upfront, RUN for the hills!!

6) Last, but not least, in all honesty, you eventually will have to develop your career in a major fashion capital, like New York City. So, PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE!!

 

Question: For young women transitioning from college life to becoming a young professional what is the best way to break into a new field and create a presence? Erica

 Coco Mitchell: The transition is not as hard as you might think. While you were in college you chose your field of interest. While you were an undergraduate you may even have had work-study jobs in your desired field. So, you are already on the right course.

In becoming a young professional you can interview and acquire a position in your field of choice immediately after graduation or you can test the waters and apply for paid or unpaid internships, which can you hands-on experience. If the internship is a little more than being a gopher, be the best gopher you can possibly be. Remember, your future is your own hands, and there is something valuable to be learned from every work experience. By showing initiative and doing your best you are creating a presence.

Throughout your work and personal life you will always experience change. But with hard work, guts, commitment, determination, focus, and most importantly trust in the Divine, the transition won’t be difficult.

KEEP LOOKING UP!!

 

Question: What is the biggest piece of advice that you would give to a woman of color starting out in the fashion industry. How do I stand out and make a name for myself, without falling prey to stereotypes and being overlooked?  Also, any skin care advice for flawless aging would be appreciated. Sandra B.

Coco Mitchell: My biggest advice to you as a woman of color just starting out in the fashion industry is to recognize that you are God’s beautiful creation and other people’s perceptions of you have nothing to do with your beauty and potential. Remember, you make your own opportunities.

Show yourself approved and stand out by being the ultimate professional. Ask yourself if you  have prepared yourself for a career where the girls that are working are BEYOND, regardless of their race or ethnicity. Stand out by being current and knowledgeable of your craft.

If you search the internet and fashion magazines there are more women of color working in fashion as opposed to a few years back. So, the industry is catching up to what the rest of the world looks like.

As for advice on flawless aging skin, I apply the 8 Rule; 8 hours of sleep every night, and eight 8 ounce glasses of water every day. If you wear makeup, never sleep in it. Invest in a good skincare regime. If you can afford it, get your skin analyzed by a professional aesthetician.

LOOK UP AND LIVE!!

 

Fashion Reverie Announces “Conversations with Coco”

Fashion Reverie has quickly become one of the premier destinations for all things fashion and as a part of Fashion Reverie’s initiative to facilitate more interactivity with our viewing audience Fashion Reverie has established a bi-weekly question and answer segment with our esteemed colleague, supermodel Coco Mitchell. Every two weeks Coco Mitchell will answer 3 to 4 questions from our viewers about fashion, modeling, and life. The questions with responses from Coco Mitchell will be posted in our new Conversations with Coco section, located under the Model Spotlight tab.

Chado Ralph Rucci runway images courtesy of style.com

Discovered by the legendary Eileen Ford, Coco Mitchell has graced the covers of high glossy fashion magazines and walked the runways of some of the most acclaimed fashion designers for over three decades. Coco Mitchell was the first African American woman to appear in Sports Illustrated. She has walked in runway shows for Giorgio Armani, Christian Dior, Issey Miyake, Thierry Mugler, Valentino, Giorgio Sant’Angelo, Paco Rabanne, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Patrick Kelly, Gian Franco Ferre, Versace, Sonia Rykiel, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Badgley Mischka, Bill Blass, Zang Toi, Betsey Johnson, just to name a few. For over 16 years Coco Mitchell was a personal favorite of Ralph Rucci.  And Coco Mitchell has appeared on the covers of French and Italian Vogue, Essence and a wide array of domestic and international fashion magazines.

Coco Mitchell gives back to the fashion industry by coaching young models, and advising emerging fashion talent. Coco Mitchell is the creative consultant at Fashion Reverie, and is signed with MGMT, a division of Major Model Management.

Please submit your questions to conversations@fashionreverie.com.

—Staff

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