Her resurgence is not just about defying age but also about championing innovation and supporting emerging talents in the fashion industry.
As the global fashion extravaganza transitions from London to Milan, and on to Paris, Coco Mitchell is basking in her recent triumphs on the New York runway. Her comeback included electrifying moments, such as showcasing dance moves reminiscent of Janet Jackson during the Deveaux New York show on September 9.
«I’m here to challenge conventions,» she asserted during a conversation with AFP, speaking from her Harlem residence. «I refuse to parade down the runway with a blank expression; that’s just not my style. I aim to leave a lasting impression.»
During New York Fashion Week, which concluded on September 11, Coco Mitchell enthralled audiences not only at the Deveaux New York show but also at presentations by Mexican designer Victor Barragan and American Christopher John Rogers.
«For me, it’s about gratitude, not just for the opportunity but for embracing authenticity. Age has never defined my journey,» she emphasized.
Coco Mitchell, who chooses not to disclose her exact age, made her indelible mark in the fashion world over three decades ago, gracing the catwalks of legendary names like Dior, Saint Laurent, Armani, and Versace. Her illustrious career boasts numerous accolades, leaving her with nothing to prove.
However, in the early 2000s, she stepped away from the runway, disheartened by the industry. «I decided I didn’t want to do it anymore. I felt like a slave,» she revealed during an honest conversation with AFP.
Standing tall at 5 feet 10 inches, Coco Mitchell, discovered on the streets by the iconic model agency executive Eileen Ford, returned to her roots in catalog work, collaborating with brands such as Macy’s, Old Navy, and Gap. Despite her flourishing career, the allure of the runway beckoned her back this year, where she found fresh inspiration collaborating with up-and-coming designers.
«I’m the kind of person who will step up if someone needs help with a project,» Coco Mitchell explained.
Her approach aligns with the emerging trend among creators to challenge traditional catwalk formalities by allowing models to engage with the audience, even breaking into smiles. During the Barragan show, she playfully interacted with spectators, eliciting cheers with her effortless confidence.
Coco Mitchell is no stranger to breaking barriers. She was the first African American model to grace the pages of Sports Illustrated and a trailblazer on runways around the world. She observes with keen interest the growing diversity sweeping through the fashion industry, particularly in America, where inclusivity encompasses skin color, age, and body diversity.
While Coco Mitchell acknowledges the increasing openness, she also recognizes the business potential for fashion brands. «Economically, industries are realizing that people of color are significant consumers of skincare, haircare, beauty products, and clothing,» she noted.
However, she maintains a pragmatic view of the persistence of racism in certain segments of American society. «Racism is deeply ingrained, and we live in America. It’s unlikely to disappear; it’s ingrained in people’s thinking,» she asserted.
Coco Mitchell’s spontaneous return to the runway brought her immense joy and satisfaction, sparking contemplation of future appearances. «I began my career relatively late, around 23 or 24. No one really knew my age, so I’ve never focused on it,» she shared. «My goal is to maintain the quality of life I have now, even when I’m 99 – to walk, run, and keep my mind sharp.»