Art & Culture

A Sit Down With Coco König: Call Me Coco

Everything and everywhere. You will not find a stereotype for Coco König: the many talents of the 23-year-old Viennese born actress are just as exuberant as her diary. Curtain call for Vienna’s all-rounder.
Reading time 7 minutes
Turtleneck top with leather details: Louis Vuitton

Only just having flown across an abyss in Africa in a doorless helicopter, the charismatic actress now sits in a studio in Vienna, moments before being photographed by her sister-in-law, fashion photographer Violetta König. “Vio is like a sister to me, so it’s such a pleasure to work with her professionally today.” Violetta’s husband, Philip, is responsible for the young actress’ nickname, Coco (her real name is Helena). “I have always been the family entertainer. Already at the age of six, I would perform shows. Vio was also amongst my living room audience, by the way” she adds, laughing. While Violetta works on the image concept next door, Coco is still in make-up and hair, which is nothing new for the well-traveled cosmopolite. She has been accustomed to this procedure since the age of thirteen.

The beginning of her career was marked by a dinner with Luc Bondy, who hired her for “The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez” at the Vienna Akademietheater. “I learned almost everything I know about acting from Luc. He was my mentor,” she explains. Her enthusiasm for theatre was engrained in Coco by her mother Barbara, by the age of 7, when she was taken to see an Ibsen play for the first time. “Thanks to my mother, I never had to experience really bad theatre, which of course helped shape my understanding.” A number of theatrical performances followed during her time at school, which often took her across borders. When the then 16-year-old König was enrolled at Swiss boarding school Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz, she was invited to play her first major role in Bondy’s staging of Ödön von Horváth’s “Don Juan Comes Back From the War”, for which she had to commute between Switzerland and Berlin. Later it would be between New York and Ham- burg, where Coco played Amalia von Edelreich in Schiller’s “The Robbers”.

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Silk dress with cut-outs and ru e details, Zimmermann at Mytheresa
“I never wanted to have to wait for the next role. I always wanted to have a second life.”

Her mother came to every single one of her performances. When an article on Coco was published in a Hungarian newspaper, the director of the movie “Shakespear for Beginners / The Carer” became aware of the half-Hungarian prodigy and offered her a starring role. With this role, the then 19-year-old König was signed by an agent and her career began to develop towards the film, where she also played alongside movie greats such as Michael Fassbender in “Assassin’s Creed”.

London is currently home base as she has just completed her bachelor’s degree in political science at NYU, and is currently working on her master’s degree at LSE. A second pillar

besides acting is not only her parents’ wish but also her own: “I want to be able to work on topics that are important to me.” Studying also allows her to do something meaningful and not have to wait for acting roles. “Maybe it will lead me to the UN, who knows,” says Coco. One thing is certain: the key topic for energetic König is impact investment. “Meaningful action is essential to me. As brand ambassador of the #TOGETHERBAND, I can help make a difference.” The English company has portrayed the 17 goals of the United Nations in the form of colored bracelets. The proceeds will be donated to respective charitable associations that are trying to attain these goals. Stars such as David Beck- ham and Allessandra Ambrosio are amongst other ambassadors for the project. The bracelets are made in Nepal from refined plastic and discarded illegal firearms and poured into the shape of a pull tab. “We already eat the equivalent of a credit card in plastic every year without knowing it. We have to act now, not later” the actress states.

Coco’s purpose and depth are not limited to her fashion choices, but also to the selection of her screenplays. “My American agent pre-selects the screenplays that are suitable for me: the movie must already make a certain statement for me.”

"No one that I think is cool, drinks from plastic cups.”

In the short film “To the Boats”, which has just been submitted to the festivals, Coco plays a Brexit opponent, something with which she can identify in real life. Thus, the daughter of an industrialist is also an idol for a generation of girls who are interested not only in fashion but also in something more meaningful. Her favorite item of clothing
is a T-shirt from Vollebak, which easily composts by itself within a few weeks when you dispose of it. Sustainability has long arrived within the luxury industry and therefore it is no contradiction to see Coco on the cover of the August 2017 issue of Japanese Vogue alongside 67 fashion millenials such as Charlotte Dellal or Caro Daur, who also debuted on Dolce & Gabbana’s catwalk.

Coco is therefore in tune with the current zeitgeist: a young, relevant, long-distance traveler who is always on the go. On a safari in Africa yesterday, tomorrow she will be walking the red carpet at Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief Charity dressed by star stylist Elisabeth Saltzman in Georges Hobeika. Effortless for the exuberant actress, as she has model proportions and thereby the perfect size to fit the elaborate gowns. A circumstance that brings some variety to her student life and her acting career as she is also able to take on modeling jobs, such as the cover of Financial Times’ luxury supplement, How to Spend It – a further feat that can be found within her tightly packed schedule.

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Taffeta dress: Dior/ Shoes: Jimmy Choo.
“Sustainability is no longer a trend, it’s a movement.”

Coco is a natural in front of the camera, as well as natural in person. In general, young König seldom follows trends or styles. “My wardrobe is well curated and full of memories – pieces that I will wear until they do not fit or fall apart.” The Viennese wears her mother’s vintage Chanel crop tops with as much devotion as the red skirt, which she wore during her performances of Horváth’s play in Berlin. A little modernity is a must, so a Dior saddle bag is added to her travel essentials. Coco is dressed by big fashion brands for her red carpet appearances. Important dates for Coco aside of those spent in the limelight include “meet- ing with colleagues with whom you can talk about acting, and who are in similar situations. Often one doubts one's own career choices, and whether one rejects or accepts a screenplay. It’s just nice to know that you’re not alone with these thoughts. And that others feel the same way.”

Satin dress with corset belt: Etro.

“My closet is curated and full of memories – pieces that I will wear until they don’t fit anymore or fall apart.”

Production: Christoph Steiner

Photo: Violetta König

Styling: Suiqi Luk

Hair & Make-up: Stefanie Lamm-Sui

Location: Studio f6

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