Davinya Cooper, a London based model, is no ordinary beauty. With her unique looks, she is slowly but surely conquering the fashion world. Although she didn’t start modelling long ago, she already has a lot of editorial work under her belt with publications like Nylon Germany, Flanelle Magazine, GAL-DEM Magazine, Kaltbult Magazines, HUF Magazine and various others, including photos on Vogue Italia’s Photo Vogue. Davinya has also done a few campaigns for clients such as Instax, Coco and Eve, Candy Kittens and recently shot for Reebok Iconic Campaign.
At only 20 years of age, Davinya modelled for designer Francesco Rasola at London Fashion Week, and also walked for label Press X Holly Jade O’Leary (The Future of Fashion) at Sketch Mayfair. The model is also known for her work on Portrait of Britain by JCDecaux, and modelling for brands such as Swarovski, Grazia Magazine and 20th Century Fox’s collaboration with Central Saint Martins fashion presentation for The Greatest Showman at the Claridges Hotel.
The fascinating thing about Davinya is that she is also a very talented flautist. She began to play flute at the age of 9 and received a scholarship to study at The Purcell School, where she performed at the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall with The Purcell Symphony Orchestra. Davinya also gave a solo recital at the Wigmore Hall. She performed at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Children’s Proms and toured in Czech Republic and Germany with the London Youth Wind Band. While studying at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Davinya played with The Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra, playing principal flute at the Blackheath Hall, The Clore Ballroom Floor at the Southbank Centre with the Contemporary Jazz Ensemble as well as the prestigious London’ Ronnie Scott’s Club. It seems like Davinya manages both professions, modelling and playing flute, just fine.
We spoke to the model about her music, fashion, and how demanding the fashion world can be.
Davinya Cooper for Vogue Italia © Vogue Italia
You started modelling not so long ago, what made you decide to pursue a career as a model in the first place?
It was never something I had planned, I ended up going into modelling soon after my mum passed away. Looking back, I think there was definitely an element of it subconsciously being a way to distract myself. Having modelling as a creative outlet enabled to me use my pain in a healthy way and channel it into something useful which I found therapeutic. I fell in love with it the second I started, but I didn’t expect it to be a career path until things quickly began taking off. I do wish I had started much younger though.
How do you balance your everyday life and work as a model, especially in such a demanding industry?
By being as organised and reliable as I possibly can. Doing a full-time course at conservatoire meant it was incredibly hard to balance both. Especially for the first year and a half as I was shooting part time, so I really struggled. But now I know how to manage it all.
How would you describe your own fashion style? Consider anything and everything from colour to historical eras and more.
I always look for items that people don’t have, so most of my clothing are vintage and consist of pieces from the 70s, 80s and 90s. At the moment I’m all about the bold statement jackets. I get bored very quickly so I am constantly selling and buying new pieces to refresh my wardrobe.
Davinya Cooper for Toksick Magazine – Photo © Sara Brudkiewicz
Modelling requires to be in on top form, what do you do to stay in shape?
In all honesty, I don’t go to the gym or anything like that. The most exercise I get is climbing up the stairs which normally results in me being out of breath! I have a high metabolism, therefore, I can get away with it, but I’m sure one day it will catch up with me. In terms of food, it’s a running joke in my friendship group about how poor my diet is. You will never catch me eating a salad, I love junk food too much.
Fashion trends change rapidly, no matter the country or style. What are the fashion trends you love the most this year?
Suits. Let’s be real, every woman should own a statement suit.
Modelling industry is known to be harsh; how do you perceive the British modelling industry? Is there anything you really wish would change?
You definitely have to be thick skinned and not to take rejection personally.
An issue that definitely needs to be addressed is the lack of diversity for men, we need to see more body shapes and sizes that are not limited to slim or muscular. I never see any plus-sized male models either. For runway I would love to see designers make garments for different heights and shapes, as most samples are for models 5’9 above. We need shorter models being represented and sizing that isn’t just a UK 4-6. I want to see more mature and middle-aged models, they are barely used and it’s very odd, so yes we need more of that! Society is constantly telling us to fear the ageing process and we need to change that. We don’t need Botox or anti-ageing creams, we really don’t.
Which part of your job as a model do you find the most difficult? And which is the most rewarding?
Seeing my work in campaigns and magazines has definitely been the most rewarding part. The only part that is difficult is not knowing when I am going to work.
Photo © Hrutterphoto
What do you think is your greatest strength as a model?
My biggest strength is that I am a very resilient person. I also don’t compare myself to others, I am my own competition.
Coco Chanel once said, “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” What, in your opinion, makes you different from the other models around you?
I’m not your conventional looking type of model, especially in regards to my height. I think the fact that I am a classical musician differentiates me from the rest, especially as a black woman. There is a huge issue with diversity amongst the classical music industry as it is dominated by white men. African-Americans make up 1.8 percent of orchestras nationwide, I mean how shocking is that! So to me it’s highly important that I am able to represent the minority and challenge society’s view of what classical music means and who it is for.
Do you ever get shy in front of the camera?
I wouldn’t say shy, but I do occasionally get nervous, especially if I’m working for a big client.
Photo © Bubblyblaby
Apart from modelling, you are also a very talented flautist, awarded with various scholarships as a child. You also performed at The Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Children’s proms, gave a solo recital at the Wigmore Hall and toured in Czech Republic, Prague and Germany with an orchestra. How do you deal with your flute career and modelling?
At the beginning, I tried to balance it as carefully as I could, but modelling ended up being at the forefront. Now I am much better in balancing both and that’s because I love them equally now. When I started modelling, I had already fallen out of love with music for a variety of reasons. When music became secondary, the spark and passion came back because there was less pressure. I now have more time which means I can devote myself to both, but for now, music is my main focus, so that I can work hard for the next few months to get my degree.
In September 2014 you gained a place at The Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where you are currently studying, how’s that going for you?
It has been a pretty turbulent five years. I struggled for the majority of it due to mental health issues, and I’m currently in the process of getting help for that. Luckily Trinity supported me during my time here which I am super grateful for. Since September my life has become slightly more stable, which means I have been more motivated and engaged. I’m glad I will be leaving my time here on a positive note.
As modelling career is relatively short; do you have any plans for the future when you leave modelling?
I don’t plan on leaving modelling, especially as there are so many times of modelling you can do. However, if all fails, then I will always have music.
What’s next for you? Any plans for the future?
We will have to wait and see, positive things I hope. The most important thing to me is that I carry on trying to get myself on the right path. All I want is to reach a point of contentment, the rest isn’t important.
Photo © Duncan Telford
Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Roxy Simons