Born and raised in North Carolina, Coco Johnsen spent most of her childhood in foster homes and moved to an orphanage with her two older brothers when she was 12. years old. After graduating from high school at age 17, Coco won a scholarship and became the first African-American to receive a Rotary International Scholarship to study in Brazil as a foreign exchange student. It was in Brazil that Johnsen master the Portuguese language
Upon completing her studies, Coco ventured to New York City and was discovered as a model by Jordan Epperson, the sister of Project Runway star designer, John Epperson. Johnsen was quickly swept into a shoot for Essence magazine in which she worked with celebrity make-up artist, Sam Fine. Fine and the staff of Essences transformed the young Coco, into the legendary cabaret icon, Josephine Baker. Coco adapted to the fast-paced world of fashion and beauty. Standing at 5’7″, Johnsen modeled for Wilhelmina, Grace del Marco and Elite as well as several international agencies. Her beauty and grace, as well as, a position as an international flight attendant led Johnsen to countries such as South Africa, Sweden, Germany, Brazil, Japan, Finland, Norway and Milan, Italy. Before long Coco was appearing in Coors Light and Miller Lite campaigns, Diesel Jeans ad, Revlon and several lifestyles ads. Coco Johnsen has appeared in illustrious magazines such as Vibe, Essence, Glamour, Cafe, Swedish Elle, Heart and Soul and Rolling Stone Magazine.
Her modeling career led to lead parts in music videos for Naughty by Nature directed by Brett Ratner, De’ Angelo directed by Fab Five Freddy, Big Daddy Kane, Monica, Melissa Etheridge and the late Heavy D. No stranger to national commercials, Coco appeared in a Miller Genuine Draft campaign that aired nationally. She also appeared with rapper Jay-Z in a international campaign for the VH-1 Awards Show shot by world renown photographer and director, David La Chapelle. After Brett Ratner suggested that Johnsen pursue acting, she applied and was accepted to the Lee Strassburg Theatre Institute in New York City.
Coco Johnsen studies at the Lee Straussberg Institute was interrupted due to her high demand as a model and actress. Coco was flown to Los Angeles to be photographed for a centerfold for Playboy Magazine. With measurement that ready 34DD- 24- 34 she caught the eye of Hugh Hefner and was a staple at the Playboy mansion. During her tenure at Playboy, she was filmed for and had a recurring role in Playboy Television’s 7 Lives Exposed and Girl Next Door. Coco Johnsen was a Playboy ‘Cyber Girl of the Week’ and appeared in Playboy’s 50th Anniversary issue. As a glamor model, Coco was featured in 5 Bench Warmer’s Trading Cards, Angles of the Fairways calendar and had two successful ‘Coco Johnsen’ swimwear calendars.
While in Hollywood, Coco Johnsen appeared on UPN’s The Parker’s as well as a supporting role in the feature film Out for Blood with Kevin Dillon. She co-hosted the Whole Nine Yardsfilm premiere with Bruce Willis and Wild On Bikini Destination’s Brazil,
In 2005, Coco Johnsen decided to follow her true love and study Fashion and Design. She was accepted into The Fashion Institute Of Design in Los Angeles and is currently the C.E.O of Coco Johnsen LLC with her Coco Johnsen line which was introduced in 2006. In 2007, Johnsen debuted her signature collection entitled, ‘TRAIL OF TEARS. The luxurious collection of fine silks, beading, and embroidery was sanctioned by Fern Malias and Mercedes Benz Los Angeles Fashion Week. Her collection was shown to an elite guest list including actress Megan Fox, Paula Patterson, celebrity photographer Matthew Jordan-Smith, socialite Caroline Barcadi and the Apprentice alumni, Omarosa Manigault – Stallworth. Coco Johnsen enlisted the Celebrity Stylist Ty-Ron Mayes as the Creative Director to her collections. As of 2012 Johnsen and Mayes participated in Style Week Jamaica where Coco Johnsen was featured as a guest designer. Upon viewing her Coco Johnsen collection and her new Cocolicious collection of swimwear, Yomi Abilola, editor at Italian Vogue’s Vogue.it documented her Sailor Jumper in a black and white editorial photographed in Jamaica by Jason Eric Hardwick. She was also approached by Editor Helen Jennings of ARISE Magazine who is featuring her “Wolfsbane Coat” in the September Issue. Coco Johnsen recently designed her first men’s wear jacket for Lady Gaga famed male model & actor Ricco aka Zombie boy for West East Magazine China.
Her designs have appeared in Italian Vogue, ARISE Magazine, GQ,Vogue Uk, Flaunt, Ocean Magazine, Traffic News-To-Go, Apparel News, Genlux, 944, WWD and Germany’s Bretz Furniture Campaign photographed by Udo Spreitzenbarth to name a few. Coco has dressed the late Farrah Fawcett, Megan Fox, Misha Barton, Lee Lee Sobieski, Garcelle Beauvais, Laura Vandervoort, Janice Dickenson, Jesslyn Gelsig, Christiana Milan, Holland Roden,Vanessa Branch, Bai Ling, Petra Murgatroyd and Robin Givens. Upon Mayes’ request, Johnsen constructed a custom made, futuristic beaded jumper for the model turned mogul Tyra Banks for a cover story featuring Banks in West East Magazine and Johnsen also designed the famed Vanity gown for Tyra Banks slated for the cover of Cosmopolitan Magazine.
As the designer to watch, Coco Johnsen appeared in Lifetime Television’s new reality series “24 Hour Catwalk” from the producers of Project Runway hosted by Alexa Chung and judged by James, La Force and Cynthia Rowley and Derek Blasberg. Coco is currently writing her memoir about her life story of a girl who overcome the stigma of foster care and rises to the tops of the Fashion and beauty industry. Johnsen is currently in search of a backer as she expands her brand into severals lines. You discover more details on Coco Johnsen and her career in fashion by logging onto and following her fan site and blog at www.cocojohnsen.com. Johnsen’s fashion collection is available for viewing at www.cocojohnsenboutique.com. To shop for Coco Johnsen and Cocolicious, please go to www.cocojohnsen.com/store