The stunning beauty has defied all odds, but what exactly is her secret, asks Deirdre Reynolds
If, as fashion convention has it, the average shelf life of a model is seven years, then at 38 Kate Moss is well and truly past her prime.
Last week, the iconic model was dumped as the face of New York jeweller David Yurman after eight years to be replaced by Gisele Bundchen (32).
Almost 20 years after she first graced the cover of Vogue at 19, it could have been seen as the beginning of the end for 'Kate the Great'.
After all, in the HBO documentary About Face: Supermodels Then and Now, another legendary beauty Isabella Rossellini recalls a familiar fall from grace after being dropped as the face of Lancôme in 1996 for being 'too old' at 43. "I'm not invited to the A [list] parties any more," says the actress (60). "My daughter is. As you grow older, you don't count any more."
Moss, though, is unlikely to lose any beauty sleep about losing the Yurman gig -- she earned a reported €15m last year, and her personal fortune is estimated to be €62m.
In fact, ahead of her 40th birthday, Kate's just hitting her stride, according to Ireland's fashion industry insiders.
'Kate Moss will still be working in her sixties," predicts Jules Fallon of 1st Option Model Agency and the upcoming Dublin Fashion Festival. "She has this extraordinary beauty -- it's virtually impossible to take a bad photo of her. It doesn't matter what you put on her -- it sells. And at the end of the day, that's all the industry cares about." Discovered by Storm Model Management boss Sarah Doukas at JFK airport aged just 14, the scrawny schoolgirl shot to fame after being photographed by the late Corinne Day for British magazine The Face.
On paper, the 5' 6" snaggle-toothed mum of one from Croydon may sound like nothing special.
Put her in front of a camera, however, and it's a different story, says Northern Irish photographer Jessica Weber.
"About four seasons ago, I was standing with the paparazzi trying to get a front-row shot of Kate at London Fashion Week, when one of them elbowed me out of the way so hard that I fell to the floor," she says.
"With Kate Moss, it's pretty much like that everywhere you go. She's fashion royalty.
"Suffice to say, I didn't get the shot that day, but I've photographed her on a few other occasions," adds Jessica, whose work has appeared in Elle and Grazia, "and she just transforms on film. She's not all 'posey, posey' like some other supermodels I've photographed, such as Elle Macpherson.
"Kate's girl-next-door image is very much part of her appeal," she says. "She's just as likely to be photographed at a music festival as on the red carpet; so to the young girls who buy her latest Rimmel lipstick or Topshop dress, she seems much more reachable than other supermodels."
In September 2005, however, this status as role model as well as fashion model was very nearly her undoing when photos of Moss allegedly snorting cocaine during a recording session with then boyfriend Pete Doherty hit the front page of a tabloid newspaper.
Despite the knee-jerk reaction which saw 'Cocaine Kate' dumped by Chanel and Burberry, the scandal did nothing to tarnish her earning power.
Ironically, it doubled her profits because 'all press is good press', said her agent Sarah Doukas at the time.
"If you passed every ingredient of the fashion industry through a blender -- the style, fun, fantasy and danger, the result would be Kate Moss," says VIP Magazine editor Elaine Prendeville, who's met the star twice in Marrakech and Berlin.
"There's a famous photo of Kate that shows every line on her face, which she's been quoted as saying is her favourite -- that's what I love about her, she's not afraid to look bad.
"When I first met Kate, I was struck by how tiny and soft-spoken she is," she adds.
"Unlike so many global stars, she looks at you directly in the eye and acts as though she likes you in probably the same way that she works the camera.
"You leave thinking that it might be okay to call her, before realising an hour later that it most certainly is not."
Thirteen months after marrying the Kills guitarist Jamie Hince, party-loving Moss has reportedly cleaned up her act in a bid to give nine-year-old daughter Lila Grace -- whose dad is magazine editor Jefferson Hack -- a sibling.
When she was snapped slugging from a can while on holiday in St Tropez last week, the only shock was that it contained water and she didn't have a cigarette in the other hand.
Meanwhile, pals say perma-slim Moss, who once infamously claimed "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels", has even begun "eating like a horse" and exercising as her thirties -- and chances of having another baby -- ebb away.
So could there be a range of Kate Moss maternity clothes in gestation? "Motherhood has opened up an amazing market to me," says top Irish model Alison Canavan (34), who regularly appeared alongside Moss on the runways of London, Paris and New York in the Nineties.
"Since coming home two years ago to have my son James, I've never been busier.
"There is no such thing as a shelf life for a supermodel anymore. Just like Kate, I started modelling when I was 15. Luckily for us, the industry has grown with us -- nobody wants to see clothes for 30-year-olds modelled by children any more.
"Being a good model isn't necessarily about what you look like," adds Alison, "that's the biggest myth out there. It's about understanding the job you're on and delivering for the client -- and Kate delivers every single time.
"Back stage, I found her very down-to-earth. Despite the buzz about her, she always said 'Hi' and didn't act any better than the rest of us. She's definitely got star quality, but she also works hard and deserves her continued success."