After masquerading as a redhead for a Numéro Tokyo shoot, Coco Rocha was hooked on the fiery hue. Like supermodel Linda Evangelista — who famously dyed her hair red for three months in 1992 — Coco was in the mood for a dramatic change. “My mom is a natural redhead. If I changed my colour, I’d feel like her real daughter!” says the 20-year-old
model, laughing.

Before paying a visit to the salon of New York-based colourist Louis Licari, Coco first chatted with Steven Meisel — the photographer who launched her career in 2006 — as well as Micki Schneider, her agent at Elite. Meisel was keen, and Schneider eventually warmed to the idea of his star client switching her hair from chocolate brown to a ravishing, look-at-me coppery red. “I was nervous at first, but her excitement won me over,” says Schneider. “Coco has reached a level where clients book her for who she is, not for her hair colour.”

When Coco arrived at Licari’s salon, she had one request: Her hair had to look natural. “She was fearless!” says Licari, who also created Evangelista’s red-hot makeover. “Her only concern was that the colour wouldn’t be red enough!” Three hours later, Coco’s transformation was complete. For the first few days, she was a little overwhelmed. “I felt like everyone was looking at me,” she recalls. “I’m already so tall, and now I have this fiery hair!” Today, Coco has totally embraced her redhead persona. “I’m very happy I did it,” she says. “It fades quickly, though, so instead of dyeing it every six weeks, I get it done every three weeks. But it’s totally worth it. I giggle like a little girl when I see myself in the mirror!”

It’s too early to tell what effect her new look will have on her career, but it definitely caused some last-minute drama for the creative team at Rootstein Mannequins. The night before the New York-based company was set to unveil its two Coco replicas, creative director Kevin Arpino learned of her new ’do. The mannequins’ hair was re-dyed just in time for the splashy cocktail launch. “It was very weird to see myself immortalized,” says Coco. “I can’t believe they chose me!”