Kate Moss is a true British icon, just like scones, fish & chips, and Queen Elizabeth.
She’s ruled the fashion landscape since she was noticed at 14 in 1988, thanks to her DGAF attitude, great cheekbones, and sartorial brilliance.
Model Sarah Doukes of Storm Models spotted the Croydon native, who swiftly climbed to become one of the most famous faces in magazines, landing contracts with Calvin Klein, Longchamp, Burberry, and YSL.
Kate’s popularity soared in the late 1990s and early 2000s due to high-profile relationships with celebrities such as Jefferson Hack, with whom she shares a daughter Lila Grace, Johnny Depp, and, most infamously, Pete Doherty.
Kate has reigned as one of the most glamorous women of all time, starring in ads and creating her line of products long after her runway heydays.
It all started so innocently. Moss rose to popularity in 1990 when a black-and-white portrait of her as a fresh-faced 16-year-old ingénue wearing a feather headdress, wrinkling her nose as she grinned into the lens of the photographer Corinne Day, appeared on the cover of the now-defunct cult magazine The Face. Like Twiggy in the Swinging Sixties, Moss had a fresh, low-fi beauty that grabbed the era, introducing an androgynous, irreverent, rough-around-the-edges attitude to the fashion world.
Her appearance in several Calvin Klein commercial campaigns in the early 1990s gave rise to the term “waif look.” Moss’s angular slim form and pale demeanor contrasted with the ultra, Glamazon radiance of the supermodel pack that was ruling the runways, and she was also branded with a darker sticker that read “heroin chic.” While Moss became the poster girl for grunge after appearing in Marc Jacobs’ Spring/Summer 1993 presentation for Perry Ellis, designer Jean Paul Gaultier described a new teen-spirit style movement to Vogue as nothing more than how we dress if we have no money.
Moss had already honed her DIY hipster look as a penny-pinched teenager when she was spotted by Sarah Doukas, founder of the Storm modeling agency, at the age of 14. The model had a thing for clothes, and she used to dress up her brother Nick in girly outfits. Moss used to dress him up and force him to knock on the door and ask their mother, “Is Kate coming out?”
Moss, who grew up in Croydon, also recalls a typical clubbing attire she wore as a young adolescent in London: crotch minis and prostitute shoes and not much else, or knee-high leather boots with this little Galliano dress, because it was the only designer item she had.
Moss’s tastes quickly matured as she incorporated pricey designer pieces and vintage finds into her outfit, fueled by her expanding bank account and new sophisticated contacts. In one of the most iconic images, Moss wears a magnificent silver beaded vintage flapper’s dress that belonged to Errol Flynn’s wife, silent movie star Lili Damita, captured on the arm of then-beau Johnny Depp at the New York premiere of Ed Wood in 1994.
Moss’s boho rock chick wardrobe is brimming with shaggy furs, sharp blazers, stilettos, shades, leopard-print coats, skinny jeans, wide-brimmed hats, flowing hippy dresses, and cut-off denim shorts, inspired by Brigitte Bardot, Debbie Harry, and Sixties’ icons Marianne Faithfull and Anita Pallenberg. What is her go-to accessory? A Marlboro Light.
Moss has evolved over the years, with a hotter, darker side showing up in the 2003 Sofia Coppola-directed video for The White Stripes and a rare 2011 appearance in Louis Vuitton’s presentation, where Moss marched down the catwalk in lace-up boots and hotpants while sucking on a cigarette; not to mention her latest transformation into a Playboy bunny. Two of these occurrences happened around significant birthdays, sending the impression that she is truly all-woman.
Moss, who intuitively understands the transformative properties of clothes, remains a romantic dreamer when it comes to fashion, despite her piercing commercial savvy, which has resulted in a high street deluge of knock-off ballet flats, pirate boots, skinny jeans, cut-off shorts, parkas, vintage-inspired boho flower-print dresses, and even wellies in her wake over the years.
According to her Vanity Fair interview with James Fox, she even pleaded for Galliano to build her a character for her stunning ’30s-inspired wedding gown. She is mentioned again in the story as stating she doesn’t want to be herself ever because she is bad at taking pictures and blinks all the time.
Galliano recounted meeting Moss, then 15, for the first time in 1989 for a show casting. She was cast as a wild child while they were hunting for new girls. He found his little rough diamond as she came up to the studio (they were on the New Kings Road).
She was incredible; she slipped the dress on and instantly knew what she was wearing, the walk, and the line. There was that enigma, that enchantment, right in front of them. She was a stunning woman. However, there was more. Even back then, she was apprehensive. Galliano does not believe that anyone is aware of who she is today.
Beyond her innate aptitude for fashion, Kate Moss, the fluid style chameleon, appears to treat her favorite hobby of dressing up as a method of getting into character to face the world, much like an actor.
An Icon of the 1990s
Moss was unstoppable, and in 1992, was named the face of Calvin Klein. She was seen topless with Mark Wahlberg, known as “Marky Mark,” and was a budding hip hop artist and model. Moss also became the face of the increasingly popular “heroin chic” image.
The sought-after model has since graced the covers of over 300 magazines and starred in ad campaigns for most of the world’s leading fashion brands. Her thin, grungy physique contrasted the tall and voluptuous models surrounding her, such as Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford, and she became known as the “anti-supermodel” of the 1990s.
Moss met and fell in love with Johnny Depp. A mutual acquaintance introduced them in 1994 and ultimately became an inseparable “trainwreck.” Their high-profile relationship became a cultural icon in the 1990s.
Kate Moss has proven to be quite the muse. Not just a rock’n’roll groupie, a fashion pin-up, or a skinny ad, but an enigmatic figure who has influenced a long list of the world’s most important contemporary artists.