Canadian model (and star of our January fashion story) Crista Cober has been working in the industry for 12 years, but she’s still wrapping her head around the public’s desire to know about her inner life. “I’m a professional model, so I think, wait, ‘you also want to know about me?” explains the Wellesley, Ont. native over the phone, having just returned from a lookbook shot in Milan.
Lucky for us, Toronto-based Cober offers a glimpse at her day-to-day on her largely unfiltered, just-as-I-am Instagram feed, where the model’s nine-month old daughter Lou makes the odd (adorable) appearance. Over the course of our chat, Cober opened up about motherhood, rebellion and yes, modelling.
Tell me about your day shooting for the cover of ELLE Canada’s January issue.
“It was the quintessential Canadian vibe—a true collaboration. The location [Crown Flora Studio] was beautiful; it was like breathing in the tropics. I shot with [the photographer] Max Abadian 12 years ago. It was my very first shoot. So that was a very special moment. And I got to have my daughter on set.”
Wool top and trousers (Christopher Kane), mohair sweater (Miu Miu), brass and hematite earrings and white-bronze earrings and ring (Quarry, at Ewanika), 24-karat-gold-plated-metal and string bracelets and 24-karat-gold-plated-metal cuffs (Gas Bijoux, at Nordstrom), sterling-silver and paper ring (Patricia Wong), coated-brass ring (Ming Yu Wang, at Ewanika)l leather bag (Versace) and cotton slides (Chanel). Photo: Max Abadian
Has motherhood changed modelling for you?
“Yes. I’m less inclined to say yes to some amazing projects. It’s much harder; I used to go from one job to the next, to the next. And now I have to be a lot more selective.”
Other than your schedule, what factors make you say yes?
“The people. I value my time, and to be away from someone I think is the greatest person on the planet, I want to make sure that I’m working with the right people. After 12 years, I have a better judge of things,”
How else have you evolved as a model in 12 years?
“I feel like I can collaborate a bit more with the people running the ship. I can be a bit more involved. I think now there’s a bit more of an interest in who I am as a person, rather than just what I look like. I’m not sure I like that yet.”
So how do you feel about that? It sounds like it plays into today’s phenomenon of the Insta-model.
“I’m in my 30s now, so I feel like I kind of skipped it. I like to use Instagram to post the pictures of what I want to show, as opposed to letting it have anything to do with work. Once I did a fragrance shoot, I understood that ‘now you’re the face!’ There was a lot of PR, a lot of hype. I had a moment of feeling like I wanted to keep my business and my life separate.
Would you say you’re shy?
“I had an amazing agent when I started in Toronto. I learned that this is a business and you’re self-employed. At the end of the day, you run you. There are a lot of beautiful faces out there, but there are less kind people. I approached going into my agency as my biggest casting. I wouldn’t say I’m shy, but I’m professional.”
Do you feel like this isn’t what you singed up for when you started?
“I was lucky to be able to stop modelling and come back. When I first started skateboarding, everyone thought that was really cool and wanted to incorporate it [into shoots]. And I was like, ‘this is just my mode of transportation because my bike got stolen! ‘I’m not a skater!”
Do you still skateboard?
What’s your advice to young models?
“Just love yourself so much for you! The business is always changing; something that doesn’t fit one day will fit another day.”
How did you start modelling?
“I was scouted by an incredible model scout, Anthony Gordon. He was an amazing ballet dancer and he had an eye for faces. He wasn’t a scout at the time, but we went to the same high school, 10 years apart. He found my picture in a yearbook. 5 days later he bumped into me at a shopping mall and when I told him my name, he said, ‘you will not believe this!’ and told me the story and took me to Elmer Olsen. Then I did my first editorial and that was the start.”
Poplin dress, cotton hat, gold-tone-brass earrings and lambskin-leather and slippers (Balenciaga) and rose-gold-plated sterling-silver and paper ring (Patricia Wong). Photo: Max Abadian
Was there a point when you thought to yourself “wow, I’m a model. This is my career now.”
“No, I think that took a couple of years. I remember [the agency] showing me Daria on the cover of Vogue and explaining that that was my potential, then I went straight to New York, and from there to Paris.”
What made you stop modelling for a while?
“I came from an athletic background and I was a swimmer. The agency in Paris sent me back immediately because they said I was too big. I came back to Canada, and I thought, ‘this is my body.’ It was the size of my hands and my wrists [that they talked about].”
How did it feel to hear that?
“It made me stronger, more rebellious. But it gave me the opportunity to stop, and start again. When I was 21 I stopped for four months and I went to South America.”
Do you have any hopes or goals for your career?
“An amazing beauty contract or something that sets up 6o days of the year. Before I didn’t want to know what was coming up the next month. Now I love the idea of having more of a set schedule.”
So what does life look like right now?
“For now, I’m just enjoying. My daughter travels so well, and my husband works from home. So on the days we have nothing, we’re just exploring Toronto.”
Your daughter will start walking soon, right?
You’ll be chasing after her.
“I’m hoping for a fine balance. I’ll chase her and she’ll chase me. Lead, follow.”
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's bi-weekly newsletter