Every year I take back the reigns during my birthday week and choose a few of the names to profile here at AppMtn. As it happens, my first pick was also suggested by Nicole.
Today’s name of the day is Coco.
Back in 1994, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon welcomed a daughter, Coco Hayley.
Until then, the only Coco that came to mind was probably Coco Chanel, born Gabrielle. She spent her adolescence in an orphanage, trained as a seamstress by the nuns. After leaving, she earned a living as a cabaret singer. There’s a popular story that her nickname comes from a song she used to sign, but Chanel herself said it came from the word coquette – flirt. Starting with hats, then moving on to perfume, and eventually her own couture house, Chanel’s mark in fashion history is almost impossible to understate.
A handful of works have attempted to capture her story. Katharine Hepburn played Chanel in a 1969 musical. A 1981 biopic starred French actress Marie-France Pisier. More recently, Lifetime produced a 2008 television movie with Shirley MacClaine as a late-in-life Chanel, and a year later, Audrey Tatou starred in Coco avant Chanel. Tatou also became the spokeswoman for Chanel. Did you ever since the Chanel No. 5 commercial featuring her on a train from Paris to Istanbul? Far more glamorous than Amtrak.
Chanel has appeared in the US Top 1000 for girls most years from the 1970s through the present, but Coco has never charted.
Besides the fashion legend, Coco brings to mind:
- Coconuts! It is a funny muddle that gets us there – in Spanish, coco refers to the palm tree, via cocos, from the Latin for berry, but altered by association with coco – face – as in the three holes on a coconut shell;
- There’s also cocoa, the seeds from which we make chocolate. The word was originally cacoa, but coco influenced its spelling, and the confusion endures.
A handful of men have answered to the name, though it generally isn’t on their birth certificates:
- Ko-ko is a male character in the enduring Gilbert and Sullivan musical The Mikado;
- Coco and Koko have been popular names for clowns;
- Late Night talk funnyman Conan O’Brien picked up the nickname;
- Coco Crisp plays center field for the Oakland A’s. Born Covelli, Coco is a childhood nickname.
Plenty of girls have probably answered to Coco for similar reasons. Any name that starts with Co can easily lead to the short form: Colette, Corinne, Coleen, Cordelia, Constance, Coraline, and Coralie all come to mind.
Courtney Cox answered to the nickname Coco, which is how her daughter, Coco Riley, got her name in 2004. Earlier this year, No Doubt’s Tony Kanal and girlfriend Erin Lokitz welcomed their daughter, Coco Reese Lakshmi. In between, singer Colbie Caillat released a 2007 album titled Coco.
Coco often makes the list of craziest celeb baby names. Online there are references to Koko, the gorilla who learned sign language, made famous in a 1978 documentary; video game hero Crash Bandicoot’s little sister; or as suitable for a poodle, but too frou-frou for a child.
As an independent name, Coco is a bit of a risk – like any short name, there’s no room to hide if it doesn’t quite fit. But she’s a stand-out nickname, and a great way to make a more formal choice easier to wear. But with Willow and Harlow in favor, Coco starts to sound absolutely reasonable – and very much on trend.