If there’s one thing designer Zac Posen and model/TV persona Coco Rocha both know, it’s how to give a performance. It’s a talent that’s in full effect at the designer’s showroom, as they tap-dance around each other, belting out “Money, Money” from Cabaret, which is playing on repeat during the shoot. “When we hang out, our playlist is always Barbra Streisand, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli and then back to Barbra Streisand,” says Rocha. “Our significant others get tired of it, but Zac and I love it.” Musical taste is only one of the many reasons the two bonded after they first met nearly eight years ago, when Rocha modeled in the designer’s spring 2007 runway show. “It’s been an amazing collaborative experience; a casting that’s turned into a friendship,” says Posen. One that’s included many fashion weeks, dozens of custom gowns (including Rocha’s wedding dress)—and even more laughs. Here’s what happened when we got the pair together to talk style.
ZP: What was your first impression of me?
CR: Oh my God, I was a nervous wreck. It was at your show, and you told me to give a real walk.
ZP: My shows were more like performances back then—almost like a ballet.
CR: All I could think about was trying to imitate ’80s supermodels.
ZP: But you’re a dancer, so of course you turned it out. You always had a little sway in your step, a little swag. That’s one of the reasons you’re my muse. Well, your positive attitude too—but mostly because you can sing and dance.
CR: I can’t sing! Stop telling people that! I remember you told Lea Michele I could sing—
ZP: Because you wanted to be on Glee!
CR: Yes, I was obsessed. And you were being my cheerleader and telling Lea, “You’ve got to get Coco on Glee, she’s a great singer.” And I’m like, please don’t say that! I can lip-synch. I can’t sing.
ZP: I could train you to sing.
CR: I don’t know about that. You’ve already taught me so much. I always say this, but you’re like the perfect older brother in the industry—especially because you grew up in it.
ZP: You’ve given me great advice over the years too. You have such an eye for promising models. You spotted Karlie [Kloss] when she was really young. And I really admire what you’ve done with social media and how you’ve built up this presence. You churn out so much content!
CR: But it’s bad—instead of embracing the moment, I’m like, “What can I Instagram?”
ZP: But you always take it to a place of humor and performance, which I appreciate a great deal.
CR: The best advice you’ve given me has been about how to take criticism in the industry. We’ve both had our ups and downs, and it’s nice to hear from a person who has been through it.
ZP: I think one of the reasons we bonded is that we both really love our jobs and like to have fun with them.
CR: It’s true. I don’t relate to people in fashion who have that kind of ruthless attitude.
ZP: We work so hard, and it’s always such a balance between art and commerce and selling yourself at the same time. It’s important to be able to take a step back and just enjoy the moment—that comes through in your work.
CR: I agree. You can feel it in your clothes.
ZP: We also bonded because we got into TV at the same time. We both took that leap.
CR: TV and fashion were very separate for a long time. And it was hard to make that transition. There was that fear the fashion industry would …
ZP: Snub you.
CR: Exactly. Because fashion was this exclusive fantasy world—we couldn’t let anyone see behind the curtains. That’s changed so much, now that the industry has embraced television and social media. We’re trying to include everyone from the blogger in Texas to the young kids obsessed with fashion in Korea. Now the question is how do we make everyone feel …
ZP: Like they are a part of it. But at the same time, still maintain that aspirational quality that is so inspiring in fashion. That balance is what is so fascinating to me—especially as more and more traditional print publications develop digital, social and even television content. The industry is in transition—and I can’t wait to know what role Coco Rocha will play going forward.
CR: I always think we should have our own TV show. That’s one of the things I see happening in the future.
ZP: I see us at 70, in Florida, by a pool. I’ll know your children, and you’ll know mine.
CR: I can’t wait to have a baby just so you can dress him.
ZP: I’m waiting.