Miércoles 5 de Octubre de 2005, Ip nº 129

Has the shine come off the £30m model?
Por Lucy Rock and Katy Weitz

Kate Moss's influence as a style icon was clearly visible at her old school, Riddlesdown High. On Friday afternoon many of the sixth form girls discussing that night's plans as they headed home were sporting 'skinny jeans', ballet pumps or waistcoats - all items pioneered by Moss in the past year.

'She's a bit of a legend in our school,' said Leanne Fagan, 16, from Purley in south London, Moss's old manor. 'Loads of teachers will tell you they've taught her and a lot of my friends are big fans. They have her pictures all over their walls. She's one of those people that everyone copies. I got some black ballet pumps because she made them look very stylish. And I love those military jackets she's got. Now you can find them in the high street but she wore them first.'

Ever since she was propelled to stardom as the embodiment of the 'heroin chic' trend, Moss, now 31, has cultivated an edgy, rock chick image and an enigmatic air. This, and her enduring beauty, has helped her to stay at the top of her profession for nearly 15 years and amass a fortune thought to be in the region of £30 million. Her relationship with the musician Pete Doherty, a self-confessed drug addict, has boosted her popularity among many young fans still further. They avidly follow the pair's tempestuous, soap-opera style affair.

Last week, though, a chink in her perfected image appeared when grainy images of her apparently snorting lines of cocaine were published in the Daily Mirror. Leanne and her friend, Rebecca Stevenson, also 16, are not surprised by the allegations. 'Drugs are everywhere,' said Rebecca. 'I've tried weed before but I wouldn't go near anything stronger. I know a lot of people who have. Young people experiment - that's normal.'

The girls' main concern is the welfare of Moss's daughter, two-year-old Lila Grace. Rebecca said: 'She should have grown out of it at 31 because she's a mum and she can't go too far. That girl of hers is going to grow up thinking all of that is OK.'

Moss had her daughter with Jefferson Hack, the co-founder of the style magazine Dazed and Confused. They broke up two years ago, and she is said to be terrified that he will apply for custody.

James Mullord, the former manager of Doherty's band Babyshambles, believes Moss has been hard done by. 'I don't think what that [the Mirror pictures] is projecting is a fair representation of who Kate is in terms of her relationship with that drug. It gives the impression she's bang on it. Kate's not Courtney Love.

'She's a very responsible mother and I've never seen anybody near her child taking drugs. She certainly doesn't take drugs every time she goes to a party. She spends a lot of time playing with her daughter, dressing her up, getting bead kits and making necklaces and cutting out stuff. We were over in Paris and she hooked up with Naomi [Campbell] and she looked out of place. These are girls she's run about with over the years and they've had some times and Kate is a bit quieter than she was back then.'

Moss is part of a unit now - Moss and Doherty - almost always pictured together, laughing, smoking, having a good time, often 'partied out'. Teenagers love them both, despite the drugs. Rebecca said: 'We love Doherty's music. It doesn't really matter to us that he's a crack addict because rock stars are meant to be like that. All messed up - they're creative. I'm just not sure how creative you have to be to walk down a catwalk. My boyfriend likes Pete's style, like I do Kate's, and dresses like him in hipster jeans and polo shirts and hats.'

The views of Rebecca and Leanne are vital to Moss's future, for the question in the fashion industry where Moss is worth millions in merchandising is whether the incident will damage her reputation with the public and, ultimately, her employability.

The first Moss knew of the allegations was when the phone rang in her room at the Mercer Hotel, New York, where she was attending Fashion Week with Doherty. It was her lawyer with news of the Mirror's five pages of revelations, and Moss's initial fury at being betrayed quickly turned to fear over the repercussions it could have on her contracts with the global companies she represents, especially those with large teenage markets such as the cosmetics brand Rimmel.

The 45-minute video obtained by the tabloid allegedly shows Moss, dressed in shorts and knee boots, snorting and preparing cocaine in the early hours of one morning the previous week at a studio in west London where Doherty, 26, and Babyshambles were recording. In the fuzzy, black-and-white frames, she is sitting on a leather sofa surrounded by empty beer bottles and overflowing ashtrays, throwing her head back and laughing.

The accompanying report claims she inhaled five lines of cocaine through a rolled-up £5 note within 40 minutes, and repeatedly 'chopped up' lines with a credit card on the cover of a CD case for Doherty and others.

Among those at the studio was the musician Mick Jones, formerly of The Clash, who is producing Babyshambles' new album and is married to one of Moss's best friends, Miranda. The story was all the sweeter for the Mirror because two months ago its sister paper, the Sunday Mirror, was ordered to pay substantial damages to Moss and run an apology for printing 'untrue allegations... that she collapsed into a drug-induced coma in Barcelona in 2001 after taking vast quantities of cocaine'. Lawyers at Mirror Group Newspapers now plan to try to get the company's money back.

Yet should any of this matter to Moss? Michael Gross, author of Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women, thinks not. 'Shock, horror - models do drugs! Oh my God, the world is going to stop,' he said. 'What would New York Fashion Week be without some model being caught whipping some blow and another one having a backstage tantrum?'

Global companies operate in highly competitive markets and have no qualms about ditching their 'face' if he or she is deemed a liability. The model Ingrid Parewijck's career stalled after she was caught at New York's JFK airport with 2.7g of cocaine. The 26-year-old Belgian model found herself dropped as the face of Lavazza coffee after the drugs raid last July. The comedian Vic Reeves lost a lucrative contract with the car insurance firm Churchill after drunkenly crashing his classic Jaguar.

Moss, it seems, is a more robust marketing proposition and two retailers have already decided to keep using her, one after the model offered a 'grovelling apology'. A spokesman for the clothing store H&M said: 'We met Kate and her agent and she has told us she regrets the incident and has apologised to us. We are going to give her a second chance. We take issues like this very seriously. There was a lot of discussion about it before it was decided to carry on with the campaign.'

The jeweller H Stern has also backed her, a spokesman saying: 'We chose her for our campaign because she is a style icon. Things beyond that are her personal life.'

It remains to be seen what happens to her relationships with Chanel, Christian Dior, Roberto Cavalli, Burberry and Rimmel, which all declined to comment. Her model agency, Storm, was also keeping quiet, saying: 'Kate never makes public comments to the media about her private or professional life.'

Rita Clifton, chairman of the international brand consultancy Interbrand, said: 'Moss is popular for her unusual beauty but what distinguishes her is that she is accessible and down-to-earth. She's got this great attitude and is a style leader.

'The other thing that has made her valuable is this edge of darkness feeling about her. The problem is that her image is sliding too much into the latter. There is a world of difference between people imagining you're a bit racy and the reality and seediness of being seen to be so.'

Moss has admitted dabbling with drugs in the past, and this had no affect on her standing. She told Time Out magazine in 2001 that she used drink and drugs to relieve the boredom of her job. And two years ago she told David Bowie in Q magazine: 'When I was bang on it, that wasn't a nice time. Drugs enhanced all the misery and I got into this spiral. I still drink but I don't do drugs.'

For a model, Moss's career has been remarkable for its longevity. The girl from Croydon was 'discovered' in New York at 14 by Sarah Doukas, head of the modelling agency Storm. Her big break came in 1990 when she was photographed for the cover of The Face magazine. Her 'child-woman' figure and chiselled features led her to be heralded as leader of the superwaifs. At 19, she was signed up for Calvin Klein's raunchy ad campaign and suddenly she was the face of the Nineties. She has since graced the cover of Vogue 10 times.

For years her life has been portrayed as glamorous swirl of parties and holidays with her famous friends, who include Sadie Frost, Stella McCartney and Marianne Faithfull. At her 30th birthday party guests dressed like characters from the F Scott Fitzgerald novel, The Beautiful and the Damned, and that theme has typified her decadence. The fact she has not given an interview for nearly five years has only added to her mystique.

Some people believe her relationship with Doherty, whom she met at her 31st birthday party last January, has damaged her iconic image. Friends have warned her off Doherty, who was jailed for burglary in 2003 and was caught at Oslo airport in Norway last month with both heroin and crack cocaine.

Jo Carnegie, deputy editor of Heat magazine, said: 'Kate's winning formula was always the fact she was so enigmatic. Until Pete Doherty, the only access we had to her was looking gorgeous at parties or fashion shows.

'But now we see pictures of her looking dishevelled at Glastonbury and hear tawdry stories of hers and Pete's bust-ups. We are still interested in her but for more unsavoury reasons: her life has become like a Jerry Springer soap opera. I think Kate has lost her gloss and it will be hard to get it back.'

Yesterday Moss was said to be considering going into a rehabilitation clinic. It would not be the first time. In 1998 she went into the Priory Clinic, south London, with 'exhaustion' after a traumatic break-up with actor Johnny Depp following a three-year relationship.

If Leanne, Rebecca and their friends in Purley are anything to go by, her status as a style icon is undented. Leanne does have some advice for Moss, however. 'It would be nice to see her doing something for someone else for a change. She's always just having a good time. That's not what life's all about, is it?'


  18/09/2005. The Guardian.


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