Saturday 16 December 2017

Kate Moss: 41 and still living in the fast lane

Escorted off an Easyjet flight for 'disruptive' behaviour, the world's most famous model still attracts trouble

Kate Moss at Glastonbury 2005 in the outfit that would spawn festival fashion for years to come.
Kate Moss at Glastonbury 2005 in the outfit that would spawn festival fashion for years to come.
Kate Moss and Marky Mark shoot the iconic Calvin Klein campaign
Johnny Depp and Kate Moss in New York in 1994
Kate Moss with a cigarette on a night out
Kate Moss marries The Kills guitarist Jamie Hince in 2011
Kate Moss on the cover of The Face
Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell at Kate Moss for Topshop launch
Kate Moss on the cover of Playboy's 60th anniversary edition in 2013

Tanya Sweeney

When we hear of a celebrity being met by police off an EasyJet flight for 'disruptive behaviour', we're likely to think of a premiership footballer fresh off the leash, or a rowdy reality TV star.

We're probably less inclined to think of a fashion icon to whom art exhibitions have been devoted; a woman whose face has been synonymous with luxury brands like Chanel and Dior.

But throughout her long career, Kate Moss has proved again and again that she's as likely to confound expectations as she is to dazzle in front of the camera.

While no arrests were made on flight EZY2232 from Bodrum over the weekend, it did emerge that 41-year-old Moss, fresh from her pal Sadie Frost's 50thbirthday celebrations, had been refused alcohol by cabin crew. Seemingly in no mood to end the celebrations, Moss (according to onlookers) was in spirited form and even played 'hairdresser' with a young passenger. Another report claims that the model insulted the pilot amid the kerfuffle, prompting cabin staff to order local police meet the aircraft on touchdown.

Kate Moss has always been of the I-am-what-I-am school of doing things - her mantra, famously, is 'never complain, never explain' - but still. Occasionally, it can be difficult to reconcile the image of the ethereal, fine-boned beauty with the Croydon lass who won't let the party die down. Still turning heads and commanding big bucks after 25 years in the game, there's little doubting that waify Katy is having the time of her life.

Sure, Moss has been somewhat tamed by her rocker husband Jamie Hince (they split in 2008, allegedly due to her non-stop party lifestyle, but reunited soon after). Another curious Moss-ism: Kate decided she wanted to marry Hince after seeing an episode of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Still, the stories of good times in the fast lane still surface with metronomic regularity; the 100-hour bash for her 40th birthday, looking worse for wear at Paris Fashion Week, the scuffle with a photographer as Lady Gaga looked on, apparently horrified, according to Page Six. Throw a 40th birthday Playboy shoot into the mix, and suffice to say that Moss has broken every rule in the supermodel book.

Hers is an angelic face that could get away with anything; in fact plenty think she already has. Down the years, Moss has weathered more than her fair share of criticism and controversy, yet has somehow remained impervious to the slings and arrows of a cut-throat industry. In 2005, it looked as though it might truly be curtains for the Croydon beauty when she was photographed by a British tabloid snorting cocaine. On the back of a seemingly toxic romance with Babyshambles singer (and habitual heroin user) Pete Doherty, this appeared to be the final straw. Amid the drug allegations, Stella McCartney, Chanel, H&M and Burberry terminated contacts worth millions with Moss. So far, so bad… yet within a year of the photographs being published, Cocaine Kate's earnings soared (her accounts for her private company, Skate Enterprises, doubled their assets in 2006). Even better, she was later reinstated by some of them.

2009 brought another controversy, when Moss intoned a mantra in Women's Wear Daily she has found nigh on impossible to shake off: "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." Adopted promptly by the online pro-anorexia set, it did nothing to dampen claims that Moss is a less-than-stellar role model. And still, in a business where models have been felled by less, her career remains megawatt-bright, able to straddle the entire fashion spectrum. A British Fashion Council award and foray into design (via Topshop) later, and make no mistake: whatever about her extra-curricular enthusiasms, Mossy's still got it. She is beyond the humdrum duty of having to set an example.

So where did it all go right for Katherine Ann Moss, the daughter of a barmaid and a travel agent? Some might say JFK Airport, where a chance meeting with model scout Sarah Doukas changed the skinny, snaggle-toothed schoolkid's life beyond anyone's wildest imaginations. According to lore, Moss very nearly didn't make the flight in the first place.

And from the get-go, she confused and confounded everyone in her path.

"I opened the door to see this scrawny little child," recalls photographer David Ross of Moss' first ever test shoot. "I thought it was some girl who's pressed the wrong buzzer and was trying to find her mum."

"I was, like, a child when I started," Moss reflected last year. "If it hadn't happened, I don't know what would have happened to me. I wanted to be at the centre of things. I love working with creative people and there was none of that where I came from. As soon as I was given a chance I took it. I would be in Croydon working in a bar probably."

The Croydon bar scene's loss was definitely fashion's gain. The tabloids, too, must have hyperventilated in excitement when Moss' career took full flight. From the outset, Kate loved fashion's hedonism: aged 16, she reportedly got wasted on whisky backstage at a John Galliano show in Paris, missing school the next day, according to a New York Post report.

In 1994, she began a relationship with actor Johnny Depp, and they made a beautiful couple, all cheekbones and winsome eyes. But as a couple they were as damned as they were beautiful. Tales of heady glamour, hotel brawls and good love gone spectacularly awry were legion. It ended in tears, quite literally: "There's nobody that's ever really been able to take care of me. Johnny did for a bit. I believed what he said," Moss told Vanity Fair in 2012.

"And that's what I missed when I left. I really lost that gauge of somebody I could trust. Nightmare. Years and years of crying. Oh, the tears!"

Things in Moss' personal life evened out eventually, and she gave birth to her daughter Lila Grace in '02, and remains close to Lila's dad, magazine publisher Jefferson Hack. In a very modern twist, Hack and Hince have been known to socialise together. Moss is a dedicated, doting mother, but motherhood hasn't defined her. Of Lila's birth, she is quoted in Fred Vermorel's biography Kate Moss: Addicted To Love as saying: "I had simply the best birth. Candles and everything. A bottle of Cristal champagne. I had the best time."

Unkind media commentators are prone to the occasional dig at Moss' uncompromising lifestyle: "How decades of wild living have taken their toll," screamed one headline last year, while the resulting article described her as 'padding in the shallows of Old Lady Lake'.

For her part, Kate has maintained a dignified silence about such criticism, but then this has always been her way. Keep the press at arm's length; let the photos do the talking.

For that reason alone, it's likely we'll never know her full story, as Moss' tight circle of pals - among them the aforementioned Sadie Frost, party organiser Fran Cutler, hairdresser James Brown and Hince's bandmate Alison Mosshart - rarely discuss the star in public. Likewise, industry figureheads rarely have a bad word to say about the star, at least not on record. Moss herself isn't likely to open up anytime soon, either: "You can't get a good (autobiography) unless you're going to spill the beans, and I can't spill the beans . . . not for a long time," she is quote as saying.

As to what the future holds for the 41-year-old, it's hard to say. She has already defied the laws of her industry, so it's all very much to play for. One thing is certain: the public's fascination shows little sign of abating just yet.

Mossy's life in the fast lane continues to be as compelling, unpredictable and heady for us as it likely is for her.

Irish Independent

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