This piece originally appeared as part of The Pandemic Diaries series in Issue 728/729 of HELLO! Canada magazine.
What were you doing when COVID-19 became a fact of life? We invited some Canadian stars to answer this question while documenting their lives during the pandemic – the highs, the lows, how they coped, what they learned.
Our celebrity-diarists – a mix of famous faces and behind-the-scenes superstars – are sharing those stories exclusively with HELLO! Canada readers. Their revealing, touching, at times humorous personal essays, accompanied by candid photos, show just how much we all have in common as we continue to navigate these unusual days, separately yet together.
Below, supermodel Coco Rocha shares how she and husband James Conran and their children Ioni, 5, and Iver, 2, experienced the first months of the pandemic.
I started hearing whispers about coronavirus in early February, but by the time I got to Milan for Fashion Week on Feb. 19, it was all anyone in fashion could talk about. As the week came to a close, it became apparent in the news that Milan was actually becoming a hotspot for the virus, and I assumed that Paris might be next.
On Feb. 23, I skipped Paris Fashion Week and flew home to New York to be with my children. Not long after that, the virus caught up with New York and by March 10, my family and I were in a self-imposed lockdown, even before Governor Andrew Cuomo requested it.
The first thing we did was taken one of our home offices and turn it into an arts and crafts room for the kids. Since we couldn't take them out, it became apparent that we'd need to find activities to do at home! Every day we created art together – a paper mâché volcano, unicorns. My children have been incredibly patient through this time. Especially my oldest, Ioni, who is five. She has never complained and has been extremely helpful with her baby brother, Iver, who's two. We also reorganized the entire house from top to bottom and created new rooms for my children. Never in my life have all my drawers and closets been this organized!
Around the time we made the decision to stay home in mid-March, we also discovered I was pregnant with our third child. This was not a surprise for us; we entered into 2020 knowing that we wanted to have one more child together. But while we knew 2020 would be a milestone year for our family, we could not have anticipated my pregnancy would coincide with the biggest pandemic the world has faced in 100 years. In some ways, it has been nice to be pregnant and at home; in other ways, it has been hard. Not being able to take my husband [James Conran] to doctor's visits, and the overwhelming dread I've felt at times when leaving the house out of necessity, have been an added stress to my body that I know I didn't have with my first two children.
One thing I know I can rely on is the strength of family. We have always been a family who spend a lot of time together. For 10 years, my husband James and I have lived and worked together, day in and day out. We always say that our 10 years of marriage is more like most people's 30 years because we've spent most of our waking hours together.
When we decided to have children, we knew that they would also need to be a part of our everyday life, as crazy and unpredictable as it can be. So if we ever had to travel for more than four days, we would bring them with us. They have come to numerous Fashion Weeks and even the Cannes Film Festival. They are always with me, and over the course of their short lives they've gotten very used to our family unit being adaptive and cohesive. I think for them, being flexible to new routines lessened the impact of being under immediate quarantine.
Outside of my own personal modelling career, I own two businesses. The first is a global modelling agency called Nomad Mgmt, which takes care of hundreds of models around the world. The other is Coco Rocha Model Camp, a bi-monthly four-day camp for models and female photographers that I personally teach. I had to postpone my March, April and May camps before deciding to launch a virtual version. My husband spent the first two weeks of lockdown getting the technology together and building a home studio ready to launch.
By the end of March, I was teaching 25 to 30 models at a time virtually online, live from wherever they were in the world, giving six-hour classes on pose, branding, contracts, agencies and more. Over those three months, I virtually taught 20 full days and educated more than 500 models. As restrictions in New York lifted in August, we started our in-person model camps. We have moved to a much bigger venue to allow for proper social distancing, and, of course, we wear masks at all times.
My daughter is supposed to start school in September for the first time, and no one is sure what that will look like. We are taking every day as it comes – because if this time has taught us anything, it's that nothing is certain except the love of family.
In this challenging time, it’s really hard to be separated from family and friends. It’s also a time when everyone needs a beautiful escape. Here at Hello! Canada, we’re still busy creating the magazine you know and love, to spread positivity and provide some entertainment as a gentle reprieve from all the hard news. And with our new special offer for subscribers, there’s never been a better time to have Hello! delivered directly to your front door. Why not treat yourself, or someone you love, today?