With her bouncy curls and long lithe limbs, it’s easy to understand why Roberta Pecoraro first captured our attention at Fashion Week Australia earlier this year. Of course, we were already familiar with the Australian model, but witnessing her open the first show at fashion week was something else. The way she moved under the sails of the Opera House was proof that she was (and still is) one of Australia’s most exciting models on the rise—she was utterly captivating. We wanted to capture that alluring spirit for Who What Wear Australia, and to find out more about her career and personal style—so we pulled together our creative team, and travelled in a convoy to Blacktown Drive-In for a day of magic-making.
It was one of the first really hot days of spring—the type of stifling heat that takes you back to school days where you’d dream of being sent home because the thermometer said 40-plus degrees. We had the entire drive-in to ourselves, and took full advantage of unlimited popcorn and frozen drinks. While Pecoraro perched on a stool within the drive-in’s retro-style diner, we asked her what she considered to be her ‘big break’, and whether she thinks she’s ‘made it’. “I think [my big break] was opening the Dion Lee show earlier this year—although I definitely feel like I have many more goals I’d like to achieve before I can really say ‘I’ve made it’. I had a surreal moment earlier this year. An amazing opportunity came through to go to Paris thanks to Toni Maticevski. He flew me there, and I was able to spend an amazing 10 days working with the legend himself, and his beautiful team.”
While Pecoraro says “modelling is not always as glamorous as it seems”, she sure makes it sound like it is.
Keep scrolling to meet Roberta Pecoraro, the girl who was always destined to be a model.
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Roberta cut fresh bangs at the start of this year. It doesn’t sound like much, but after the chop, suddenly everything changed. She had a whole new look, and her career started to take a more serious turn. “It was an exciting change when I cut my fringe. I’ve been lucky that clients have really liked my new look—and they’re helping me embrace my curls again”. It’s always incredible to think how a slight hair change can set your career as a model on an entirely new path, and there’s a long list of models before her who have understood that power of change. Take Bella Hadid for example—her first attempt at modelling was as a blonde, but it wasn’t until she dyed her hair chocolate brown that everyone really started to take notice.
But before all of the Dion Lee and Toni Maticevski moments, how did Pecoraro’s career begin? “I was born in Sicily, Italy, but I moved to Australia with my family when I was two years old. Since then, I’ve been in Sydney. I stumbled across modelling accidentally when I was 17 years old. I was at Sydney Fashion Weekend and was scouted through the Chic Model Management pop-up. From there, it all just started to happen. I got into modelling right after I finished high school, so my focus has so far been firmly set on this industry.”
When pressed on what she’d do if she weren’t modelling? “Maybe something involving food—and cooking.”
We quickly get onto the topic of Pecoraro’s personal style. It’s hard not to. While her runway style is what initially caught our attention, her personal style is just as fascinating. (And it’s not just because her sister is a stylist… more on that later.)
Describing her aesthetic, Pecoraro explains “My style changes everyday—it always depends on my mood, but I would usually describe it as ‘tomboy chic’. I wear a lot of vintage denim and oversized shirting. You really can’t go wrong with your favourite pair of jeans, a crisp white shirt, and some killer shoes.”
“Since I started modelling, my style has definitely changed. I think I have more confidence to wear something a little different from the ‘norm’.” It all makes sense when we scroll through her Instagram page (where she boasts nearly 30,000 followers). Her style is eclectic, and follows no pattern. One day she might be draped in '70s bohemian clothes, the next it’s classic tailoring and vintage denim. It’s clear Roberta has fun with her style, and enjoys the opportunity to dress up.
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While there are so many different avenues for sourcing style inspiration, from secret Pinterest boards to magazines, Pecoraro prefers to use the social media tool of her generation—Instagram. “Instagram exposes us to different trends from around the world. I have a few favourite accounts I follow (@patriciamanfield, @hoskelsa and @vanellimelli) for outfit ideas, and then incorporate certain elements into my own style. I use Instagram to keep up with the industry in general too—you can find anything on there.”
As the seasons flip over from spring to summer, we’re looking for new ways to update our style. And Pecoraro, with her relaxed approach to fashion and a focus on killer accessories, is our summertime muse. For this shoot, we took elements of Pecoraro’s style that we’d spotted on Instagram—like slip dresses, denim, and T-shirts, and re-worked them for summer 2018. Light denim replaces dark, lemony yellow replaces black, and tops-with-a-twist replace vintage tees.
What brands will she be looking to for the warmer months? “I love to support Australian designers. Right now, I’m loving everything by Aje. The brand recently released this beautiful long cream dress and some sparkly tops I have my eye on for summer.”
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As a model, the industry can sometimes be a little daunting to enter, but for Pecoraro, she’s lucky to have grown up around it and had her sister on hand for advice. “My sister Jess [Pecoraro] is a fashion stylist. I remember I always used to look up to her when I was younger. There have been a few events and photo shoots where she’s been my stylist. It’s always fun working together—she’s my best friend”. As it happens, our photographer on this shoot Dave Wheeler was one of the first Roberta worked with—in collaboration with her sister Jess.
It's clear Pecoraro was always destined to be a model, explaining “Fashion has always been in my life. I grew up around fashion because my mum was a designer in Italy. Then, when we moved to Sydney she started a children’s clothing brand. I remember walking in one of her shows!” Clearly, practice makes perfect, because all these years later, her career has seen her walk runways from Sydney to Milan.
Speaking of her Italian heritage, we pressed Pecoraro on Italian-girl style—does she think it’s different to how we dress here in Australia? “I love the way European women dress—they’re always so chic. I think they know how to balance classics with trend pieces. It all comes down to pairing a few key statement items—like shoes or a great handbag—with some elevated basics and cool styling tricks.”
And if there’s anything we learnt on our shoot, it’s that this is exactly how Pecoraro pulls together an outfit. She turned up in a T-shirt, tailored black pants, and a leather jacket, but as the day wore on and the heat intensified, she rolled her sleeves up onto her shoulders, tied her leather jacket around her waist, and showed us all why she’s the model of the moment.