Tuesday 25 July 2017

So has Kate the Great passed her sell-by date?

The supermodel has finished with Topshop and reckons it's time to settle down. Deirdre Reynolds is dismayed

Deirdre Reynolds

Deirdre Reynolds

She's the poster girl of fashion's big size zero debate -- and now the appeal of Kate Moss seems to be wearing thin too.

Two decades after first glamourising heroin chic, supermodel Moss could be forced to hang up her skinny jeans after parting company with Topshop.

After three years and 14 collections together, the Croydon clothes horse has been put out to pasture by the high-street giant for whom she turned her hand to designing.

And though the fashion chain insists the split was amicable, industry insiders reckon it's just the latest clue that Kate the Great has passed her sell-by date.

"Kate Moss, quite simply, has seen her day," says Elizabeth Greehy, editor of Stylebible.ie.

"I'm disappointed to see her collaboration with Topshop come to an end -- not because I'm such a huge Kate Moss fan, but because she always represented edgy, exciting and unpredictable fashion."

"In the fashion world however, even the unpredictable can eventually become banal. The bottom line is profit and Sir Philip is a ruthless profiteer."

Said 'Sir Philip' is Topshop tycoon Philip Green -- a billionaire businessman who controls around 12pc of the British clothing market. While the bottom line in question is one which has been precariously on the slide since spokesmodel Moss debuted for the store in 2007.

Despite being torn asunder at the seams by style critics as badly made and over-priced, almost 2,000 women queued along London's Oxford Street to snap up items from the first collection and sales spiked by 10pc.

Moss' midas touch on the shop floor saw her fee jump from £3m to £4m annually, even as her workload was lightened from six capsule collections a year to two.

But as season after season of her all-too-familiar slouchy tees, slip dresses and -- of course -- skinny jeans made their way into the bargain bin, shoppers have developed a "fatigue" for her unforgiving offerings according to fashion lecturer David Shaw.

"Everyone was quite surprised it lasted so long," the author said. "Topshop is notorious for change."

Even in the cut-throat world of the catwalk though, the shock culling of Kate calls curtains on the era of zero.

Discovered as a 14-year-old school girl badly in need of a feed of spuds by Sarah Doukas of Storm Model Management at JFK airport, Moss has been the Queen of British fashion for more than 20 years.

Since being captured on camera by the late photographer Corinne Day for the front of British Vogue on 1993, the freckle-faced waif has gazed out from over 300 magazine covers.

That same year, striking a pose in a vest and knickers for Calvin Klein, the skeletal teen single-handedly resurrected the famished look made famous by Twiggy in the 60s for a whole new generation of scales-obsessed girls.

Campaigns with Gucci, Versace, Dior, Burberry and beauty brand Rimmel to name a few all followed.

And by 2007, Moss was named second-highest paid model on the planet by Forbes magazine -- pipped only to the post by Brazilian superbabe Gisele Bündchen.

By turns celebrated and controversial -- but never boring, -- the mum-of-one routinely pads out polls from Vanity Fair's international best-dressed list to PETA's worst-dressed list for her penchant for fur.

The pop-culture phenomenon has even been frozen in time by a £1.5m gold statue called Siren fashioned by artist Marc Quinn.

But if Topshop's decision represents the pulse of the beautiful people, could it be that Kate Moss -- whisper it -- simply isn't cool any more?

"Like professional footballers, top models have a shelf life," says Sean Montague of Bscene model agency in Dublin.

"Personally, I was never a fan of Kate Moss, but there's no mistaking the impact she had on the fashion industry.

"I could see Moss becoming a panelist on a show like Britain's Next Top Model in years to come, but if her Topshop outing is anything to go by, I couldn't see her as the creative force behind such a show."

Cutting a skeletal contrast to the sporty supermodels of the day, Cindy Crawford and Elle Macpherson, when she first sashayed onto the scene, Moss was dubbed the 'anti-supermodel' of the '90s.

But could her "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" mantra finally have come back to bite her on the scrawny backside?

As hourglass beauties Christina Hendricks, Kelly Brook and model Crystal Renn steal the limelight and Mad Men-style tailoring rules the runway, Moss is once more out of step with body norms.

This time though, it may kill her career rather than kick-start it, explains Elizabeth Greehy of Stylebible.ie.

"The female form is being celebrated with gusto on the catwalks, and autumn runways have been awash with old-time glamour and hour-glass figures," she says.

"Right now, thankfully 'skeletal urchin chic' is over -- but I don't think we've seen the end of the size zero debate.

"Designers will always secretly favour androgynous shapes that best showcase their creations, so this is nothing more than a vicious cycle. When it comes full circle, Kate will probably be back with a bang."

Still, losing her Topshop 'pension' is unlikely to leave the mega-bucks model on the breadline.

She's just celebrated the 30th Vogue cover of her career and still has endorsements with David Yurman jewellery, Longchamp, Balenciaga and Dior, as well as her range of perfumes to fall back on.

And she hasn't been elbowed aside entirely by 'Uncle Phil' yet either; while the autumn/winter 2010 range will be her last seasonal collection for Topshop, the store is set to relaunch her most popular pieces, and may carry special capsule collections by Moss in future.

Nonetheless, there's a new Brit brat pack of Alexa Chung, Daisy Lowe, Chanel Iman and Agyness Deyn just waiting to swoop on the slim pickings of the catwalk carcass.

But when the deals dry up, surely we can rely on 'Cocaine Kate' -- who once reportedly quipped "Why the f**k can't I have fun all the time?" -- for some juicy headlines at the very least?

After all, this is the woman who almost wed train-wreck-in-waiting Pete Doherty.

Don't hold your breath.

It seems the 90s beacon of danger, glamour, decadence, sex, addiction and money may have -- shudder -- settled down.

"I have decided to change my lifestyle," said a cleaned-up Kate, who's engaged to musician Jamie Hince.

"Too many vices. Too much alcohol. It's about time I got myself in order because I'm no longer a little girl.

"So it's early to bed and early to rise."

Yawn -- wake us up when fashion gets interesting again.

Irish Independent

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