Analysis

Friday 25 July 2014

Kate's story: the ugly side of the beauty business

Published 03/11/2012|05:00

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KATE Moss opened up in a recent 'Vanity Fair' magazine interview about her struggles in the modelling industry. Scouted at just 14, Moss made her breakthrough with a Corinne Day shoot for 'The Face' but has now revealed how awful she found the whole experience: "I see a 16-year-old now, and to ask her to take her clothes off would feel really weird. But they were like, 'If you don't do it, then we're not going to book you again'. So I'd lock myself in the toilet and cry and then come out and do it," she said.

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Moss was propelled to global stardom when she appeared dressed in male underpants and straddling the muscular Mark Wahlberg in a Calvin Klein campaign shot by Herb Ritts. But now she recalls how the experience pushed her over the edge: "I had a nervous breakdown when I was 17 or 18, when I had to go and work with Marky Mark and Herb Ritts. It didn't feel like me at all. I felt really bad straddling this buff guy. I didn't like it."

This is the ugly, sleazy side of the modelling industry, the sordid trade-off and the side few insiders like to talk about. Then again, modelling is one of the most secretive businesses in the world, which is ironic when you consider that it is also one of the most pervasive and the most visual.

Models are some of the most iconic women of our time, their bodies adorning billboards and pages after pages of glossy magazines.

But apart from some sporadic stories about drug taking or anorexia in the media, precious little is known about the fashion world and the beautiful women who inhabit it.

Back in 2010, Sara Ziff, a catwalk model turned documentary maker, released 'Picture Me', a film documenting her journey from fresh face to supermodel in one of the few unregulated industries in the world. It starts out as a quirky homespun video diary reflecting the buzz around live catwalk shows and the friendships between the girls. The documentary might have just highlighted a very fake and fluffy world but what emerged over the course of five years of filming is something infinitely darker and more subversive.

Take the 16-year-old model alone on a photoshoot in Paris. She leaves the studio to go to the bathroom and meets a famous photographer. He starts fiddling with her clothes and then suddenly he puts his hands between her legs and sexually assaults her. The girl has no experience of boys and she has never been kissed. She is so shocked she just stands there not saying anything. He walks away and they finish the shoot. This interview didn't make the final version of 'Picture Me' as the model became frightened about the repercussions.

'Picture Me' shows Ziff herself turn from a breezy, confident 18-year-old intoxicated by the amount of money she is making into someone physically and emotionally drained by the time she reaches her mid-20s. It seems the industry that makes the rest of us feel imperfect and insecure leaves many of its own stars feeling the exact same way.

This hasn't stopped some of the original supermodels' offspring entering the industry, though. Yasmin Le Bon's daughter Amber followed her mother into fashion and became the face of Pantene. Jerry Hall's daughters model and Cindy Crawford's 10-year-old daughter Kaia has appeared in a Versace campaign. Crawford has since forbidden Kaia from modelling for the next seven years, claiming that 10 is just too young to model.

Kate Moss has spent her life peddling Calvin Klein underpants and perfumes called Obsession or Opium. This kind of work makes her less a human being than an animated mannequin from a shop window. It is little wonder that Moss has spent so much of her time behaving badly, dating unsuitable boys, being detoxed at the Priory, grimacing as she gives paparazzi the finger and spitting out expletives in her coarse Croydon accent. Her rampages make sense now as attempts to take back a life and a reality that the fashion world had stolen from her.

Are Irish models getting thinner? See Weekend magazine

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