There is only one real icon for me . . . and it's Kate
ONE of the perks of being an editor is that you can ban from your publication the words you most dislike. At Vogue, top of my list is the word "iconic".
Iconic is used so often nowadays that it has simply come to mean "recognisable". It has nothing to do with the fact that an icon should represent something more than the sum of its parts. In the world in which I work, people are capable of calling a handbag "iconic"!
However, there is one exception to my rule - and that is when the word is applied to Kate Moss.
She is one of the few women alive today who I think is a contemporary icon. And, like all icons, she sits up thereas a target waiting to be shot down.
She's had her face and body splashed all over the media for at least 15 years and she's become richer and richer, more famous and infamous. Her habits and her wardrobe have provided ripe pickings for style observers the world over.
She's held up as both a role model and a wild child; a global superstar who still maintains some of the qualities of the waif from Croydon. Yup, "iconic" should do it.
The recent mutterings over whether Kate's influence is beginning to fade are only another example of her power and fame. For instance, how often does a national newspaper devote four pages to the clothes of one woman, as we saw last week, posing the question: "Has Kate Moss lost her sense of style?"?
And how often are the front pages of Sunday papers given over to what a model is wearing at a wedding?
Vogue's September issue hits the news-stands this week and, for the biggest fashion issue of the year, the cover has yet again been given over to Moss.
I don't do this because she's a friend of mine but because, as a model and a personality, Kate Moss sells.
Indeed, in the last year, two out of the three best-selling issues featured Kate on the cover (the third was Sienna Miller). Since these issues all achieved record sales, whoever it is who thinks Kate is losing her edge certainly isn't the person buying Vogue. Kate Moss is an image - someone we observe and comment on but who remains silent. Her talent is to look wonderful but also to invest the clothes she wears with a unique panache.
Whenever she wears something either in a professional capacity - where a designer or fashion editor has decided how she will look - or in her own time, it is imbued with a confident insouciance that is in itself a definition of style.
She might sport a trilby and string tie, a mini-dress and waistcoat, a prom dress or, as at last weekend's wedding of her friends Katy England and Bobby Gillespie, a pair of tiny shorts and tailored jacket - but whatever it is, she looks great.
In the forthcoming issue of Vogue, she's posing in a Jil Sander black trouser suit, unadorned by accessories. The image is intended to convey a message about the trend of androgynous chic and the move in the direction oftailoring. I can't thinkof another model who I would have felt so confident in putting on the cover in such an austere outfit.
But I know that Kate, with her heavy-lidded, contemptuous gaze, her parted lips that rarely speak, and a gamine, wide-legged stance, will have a unique presence on the news-stand.
If you look at the clothes that she has been favouring recently, they are heavily rock chic in mode and presumably owe something to her fondness for classic bad-boy types.
However, by adopting little shorts, ties, waistcoats and hats, she is once again in the eye of the fashion storm - just look at the autumn collections from Stella McCartney, Chloe, Prada, Balenciaga, Rochas.
Women whose style becomes iconic - Jackie Kennedy, Coco Chanel, Katharine Hepburn, and even Queen Elizabeth - don't change their look from seasonto season. They've workedout what looks best andthey stick to it, adaptingit to the times but neverbecoming a victim offashion. Kate Moss knows that her tousled hair and skinny legs are part of her trademark; hence the mini-skirts, shorts and skinny jeans.
In an era where the accessories rule, she also knowsthat the right handbagdoes more for your lookthan just carry your lipstick. Black has always beenone of her favourite colours.
This very repetition reinforces the style - no wonder, then, that Moss has been included in the Best Dressed Hall of Fame in next month's issue of Vanity Fair, alongside Marlene Dietrich and Audrey Hepburn. She pulled in more than half the votes in the women's category.
When the "Cocaine Kate" drug scandal hit the headlines late last year, the immediate response was that Moss was finished. Newspapers rushed to report the cancellation of lucrative contracts and the police investigations.
A year on, she's never been more in demand, even though she's a good 10 years older than many of the other top models, including Gemma Ward and Daria Werbowy (and how many of you would recognise them?)
If that's what you get for losing your sense of style, I for one would like a piece of that action.