Coco Rocha Graces Fashion World with a Dictionary of Poses

The latest book out of the fashion world is a dictionary — but think gorgeous shapes and poses to communicate instead of endless words. In A Study of Pose, Coco Rocha demonstrates the art of modeling in a dictionary of 1,000 poses, all shot by Steven Sebring.

Rocha intended the volume to be a timeless reference to the study of pose, so styled the shoot herself, and wears only a simple leotard. “If we styled it, it would become dated. It’s a study of pose and the form of the body, not a study of fashion,” she told W magazine.

Get the book here.

Photos courtesy of Harper Collins 

The Filmic Musings of Cody Horn, Arizona Muse, and Amandine Albisson for Estée Lauder

Still from Modern Muse Moments featuring Amandine Albisson

For Estée Lauder’s new perfume, the beauty house enlisted the help of filmmaker Steven Sebring to create a series of short films that celebrated various the company’s muses. Chosen by spokesmodel Arizona Muse, the films feature the Paris Opera Ballet’s principal dancer, Amandine Albisson, and actress Cody Horn, whose film credits include Magic Mike and End of Watch.

The premiere was held in the theater at the Tribeca Grand Hotel with Horn (wearing a beautiful Jonathan Saunders dress) and Sebring in attendance. Guests sipped on wine in the lobby and sampled the new fragrance.

In an interview for the Estée Edit, Sebring said, “I’m really interested in story and dialogue. And no one is doing that in the fashion and beauty industry right now.” Sebring calls these distinctly different films “visual conversations,” that let each women speak for themselves about what inspires them. Check them out below.

Model Diary: A Thanksgiving Update

Happy Thanksgiving, dear reader. I’m Canadian myself, so I have no real sentiments about the holiday, but I am currently with my parents in Connecticut to eat and drink with our American cousins. I just finished several long days of shooting, so I am very much looking forward to five days free from heavy makeup, teased hair, tights, heels, contact lenses…the oppressive elements of “beauty” that become quite burdensome when doing them every day. Here’s an update in the meantime, while I’m eating turkey.

Remember the other day when I gushed about my awesome casting with Steven Sebring? Well I guess he liked my enthusiasm because we shot together this past Sunday. It was just a spec, but it was the craziest, most innovative spec I’ve ever done (and one which he seems to have plans for–it’s all very hush-hush). It was a very long day, but my favorite shot was the last one we did: six models (four girls, two guys), partially naked, draped in fur, intertwining limbs in some orgiastic fashion statement.

On Monday I shot for Joy Magazine (based out of Germany) with Dirk Bader at the Standard Hotel. It was my first time at the hotel, and I was very excited to witness the space in all of its trendy glory. Call time, however, was 7 am, which was a little too early for me to appreciate the Standard’s postmodern aesthetic. I did enjoy the Stay-Puft marshmallow man’s cameo in the elevator. We shot all the photos in the hotel room, with clear views of the city in the background (the room had floor-to-ceiling windows). Bader remarked that the magazine really insisted on having prominent representations of the city, as New York provides a specific, romantic narrative that appeals to European readers (sort of how American magazines often use Paris as a narrative). The cityscape doesn’t reveal the details of New York life, but it does have the skyscraper visual that isn’t common in European cities.

We finished shooting at 2:30, and then I ran across town to a casting for the Hysteric Glamour campaign, which was being shot the next day by Ellen Von Unwerth. I was a bit nervous (I’m a big fan of hers), but I put on my heels, and when she took my photo I didn’t just stand there like a bug-eyed child, but actually posed and performed. I left the casting feeling pretty good (while I was there, I was the only girl who tried on clothes), and tried to come down from the adrenaline of having met Von Unwerth by posting our meeting to Twitter (I got an account a few days ago to engage in minimal communication with friends back home, and hell, to feel cool). Despite my positive feeling about the casting, I refused to get my hopes up, so I went home and focused on my Crystal Renn post. Two hours later I got a call from my booker telling me I got the job!

But that story is for my next post, because it stands on its own, and I have to start getting ready for my first ever American Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie is for dessert. YES!

Model Diary: Exploring the Poetics of Performance with Steven Sebring

In my last post I wrote about the model’s paradox of feeling like an object while trying to maintain a strong sense of self. While “disposable commodity” is the overarching definition of “model,” I neglected to add that when modeling is good, it’s really fucking good. Yesterday, I spent the majority of the day wallowing in existential ennui (a sort of what-the-fuck-should-I-do-with-my-life-why-haven’t-I-finished-writing-my-first-collection-of-poems-yet thing) and coming to terms with the fact that my days aren’t as imbued with meaning as they were when I was writing term papers on the modern metropolis or Leonard Cohen’s poetry. I may have remained in that state all day because I only had one casting, at 5:30, so I had a lot of time to scrutinize my recent pursuits. But then I went to the casting.

It was with Steven Sebring, fashion photographer and director of the Patti Smith documentary Dream of Life. He’s a-w-e-s-o-m-e. And we got to talking. And then, instead of taking boring digitals, we had a small, pseudo photo shoot, where I really got to let go and perform. And suddenly the weight of my day evaporated as I moved, kicked, jumped, and threw myself around. There’s something really cathartic in shedding your self, your anxieties and worries, and acting (which is what modeling is, only without dialogue and with breaks), and thus becoming another person.

It’s a rare thing to have at a casting because each girl typically only gets a few minutes, is treated as just a face, and is welcomed and disposed of almost immediately. Maybe I just got lucky, and showed up at the right moment (when we finished taking photos there were several more models waiting). But that one casting completely changed my mood, because when modeling affords the opportunity to be really creative, to discover innovative ways to display body and character in front of the camera, it can be as satisfying as discovering some universal truth about human nature in a great piece of literature.

Photographer Steven Sebring on His Patti Smith Documentary

January 6th marked the opening of Objects of Life, a collaborative multimedia installation between legendary artist, singer/songwriter Patti Smith, and renowned filmmaker/photographer Steven Sebring, at the Robert Miller Gallery. The gallery’s opening partying attracted the likes of Michael Stipe, Terry Richardson, Zac Posen, Calvin Klein, Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard. The exhibition focuses on the “experience, process of discovery and revelation in uncovering artifacts of existence,” using objects, photographs and video from Sebring’s acclaimed documentary Patti Smith: Dream of Life, an immensely intimate portrait of Smith. The documentary, which was recently televised on the PBS series P.O.V, traces 11 years of Smith’s private life, experiences on the road, performances, creative ventures and passions. BlackBook spoke with Sebring about his career, his muse, the decade-long process of filming Dream of Life and this exciting new exhibit.

Tell us a little bit about the filming of the documentary and the 11 year commitment. It never was planned, and I never intended to make a movie of Patti [Smith]. It started around 1995, when I was dabbling in film. I sort of financed it throughout the years. I just brought a camera, showed up once and a while, and filmed her. A lot of people don’t realize how private she is. Over the years we got closer and closer and had a lot of trust. There was interest in the film and I’d gathered enormous amounts of footage. I started saying to Patti, “What do you think? Should we turn this into something?” There was one point when I was financially just broke, so I went back to work shooting fashion, sort of got back on track—to the point where I could take a year off and edit the piece. I worked with a really great editor, Angelo Corrao, and turned it into a feature length film.

And it played at Sundance and now P.O.V. I did a deal with PBS years ago, just because it was public broadcasting. For me it was really about getting Patti’s message out. If I can get into people’s homes and it’s free for them. That was my whole motivation.

How did you first meet Smith? She was coming into the scene in ’95. Fred [‘Sonic’ Smith], her husband died, and she went through all kinds of chaos with people dying around her. She was still in Detroit and Spin Magazine was doing a big feature on her. I was on the list of photographers and she wasn’t really sure of who she wanted to work with, because she was nervous about it. She doesn’t like to shoot photographs much. She was actually doing a song called “E-Bow the Letter” on R.E.M.’s album at the time and she asked Michael Stipe, ‘Who should I work with?’ He said, ‘Steven Sebring.’ And so she went with me. We hit it off immediately.

You’ve mentioned several times that Smith is an extremely private person. Describe some of the difficulties in capturing her intimate side. It happened really naturally. I wasn’t motivated to financially gain from anything. If anything, I lost enormous amounts of money making this film. I was just there. If there was a moment that it was a bit stressful, I’d just turn the camera off. It was more like just hanging out or having coffee. She’d go some place; ask if I wanted to come. It got to the point where she’d ask me to come with her to see her mom and dad in Jersey. She and I are so much alike so it was very easy to collaborate. She really let me do what I wanted with the film. She still says it’s my movie, it’s not her movie.

What about Smith inspires you the most? I’m inspired by her work ethic. I’m inspired by her as an artist—a true visionary; a mother. I just found her to be quite extraordinary. There’s not a woman that I know that’s like this. Because she’s not trained [professionally] as a musician, she calls herself a performer. She will stand onstage and say something and not give a shit about what people think. Even people of high power that have a huge fan base don’t do that. They’re too worried about loosing fans or a million dollars. Instead of saying something that would be helpful, she takes a stance. And at the end of the day that’s to be respected.

What should one expect at the installation in New York? The Robert Miller Gallery puts Objects of Life on steroids. It’s massive. We have the whole place for a month. So we took Objects of Life and did more. We actually recreated scenes from the movie. Objects are the brain of it all. You’ll see “Strange Messenger”, which she was painting in the film and then next to it is the movie still of her staring in front of it. Then below will be a monitor playing the scene of her painting it. There are portraits of Patti that I’ve done in the past, other archival prints, silver prints, movie stills. They’re artifacts that needed to be documented, and they have stories within themselves. Sebring, as a photographer, has worked with numerous magazines, artists, and celebrities, in addition to having shot campaigns for labels such as Lanvin, Ralph Lauren, DKNY and Coach. His published work includes Lalanne (2006), Bygone Days (2005), and Naked Flowers Exposed (1997). Sebring’s collaborative installation with Patti Smith, Objects of Life, exhibits at the Robert Miller Gallery (524 West 26th St, NYC; 212-727-2220) until February 6th. More information