How has Kate Moss maintained her iconic status for two decades?by Joy Lo Dico / November 14, 2012 / Leave a comment
Kate Moss emerged in the early 1990s and became a poster girl for the era (photo: Getty Images)
Put Kate Moss in a parka jacket by the swings on a council estate, fag in hand on a grey English day, and the chances are no-one would give her a second glance. This is the paradox of Moss. She has graced a thousand magazine covers, walked miles of catwalk and hangs beside Princess Diana and Angelina Jolie in the gallery of the modern icon. Catch her off guard, though, as the paparazzi regularly do, and Moss is average-looking, mooching around like another lost generation slacker from Britain’s suburbs. How did someone so normal become such a myth?
Some of the answers can be found in a new book, Kate: The Kate Moss Book, from US art house publisher Rizzoli. It’s a memoir of sorts, a coffee table book with photographs selected by the model herself. She is technically the author, but the book is carefully choreographed and edited by a team of creatives, including the influential art director Fabien Baron.
Moss’s career famously began in an airport. Sarah Doukas, a pushy young agent, was at New York’s JFK to catch a late plane back to London. The 14-year-old Kate was also hanging around the terminal, smoking even then, waiting for the same flight on her way back from a holiday in the Bahamas with her father, a travel agent. Doukas saw something in Moss and approached her on the plane about modelling. “You’re a freak,” was the toothy Moss’s first thought.
In the late 1980s, Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista bestrode the catwalks. Moss was something different—a beautiful but skinny 14 year old, who, at just over 5’6”, was tiny for a model. Doukas used the oddity, teaming Moss up with Corinne Day, a photographer who preferred realism to the glare of the studio lights. She and Moss went for a day trip to the unfashionable English seaside of Camber Sands. The pictures, of Kate wrinkling her nose while grinning at the camera or running along the sands using a sunhat to hide her naked childlike body, had the immediacy of polaroid snaps. The photographs ran in 1990 in the edgy fashion and culture magazine The Face.
Something about the photographs caught the imagination of Harper’s Bazaar creative director Fabien Baron—maybe…