Kate and I first met in the early 1990s when I was working on the Mail on Sunday’s You Magazine. One day, this girl came in for a casting. I remember thinking, “Wow, she’s gorgeous, so youthful,” but she was a little waif, which didn’t quite fit in with the You consumer. It was only later when I had moved to Dazed & Confused and could work with my own aesthetic that she properly came into my life.
It would be easy to think that she’s so beautiful, and that’s it, or take her skills as a model for granted. But Kate has been honing her craft for more than 30 years. Watch her in front of a camera and she gives everything to that photographer. To see her on a set, the way she moves, how she brings life to the clothes – it’s what has carried her through the industry. She’ll say things like, “I need to shorten these trousers, put the collar up.” She plays a big part in how an image looks. It’s partly inside her, something innate, and partly a learnt thing. Sadly, models today don’t get the chance to learn. The industry demands constant change – and yet Kate endures.
Of course, there’s also her physical form: Kate’s body has amazing proportions, and clothes fit her perfectly. What’s less known – and extra special – about her is that she is always present, in the moment of whatever she’s doing. She’s really committed, not looking at a phone, not wondering what she’s doing next. She’s real with designers – she’s charming, engaging, intelligent. They have a great time with her. She clicked with Lee [Alexander McQueen] on a personal level; they had their background in common – the East End boy and the Croydon girl. She ticked so many boxes for him. Yet she was always a little nervous about doing his shows, worried about looking slightly ridiculous. That’s another thing about Kate – she’s clear about her boundaries. She will only go as far as she wants to, and if something detracts from the overall portrait of beauty, she will be the first to say. She has such a strong sense of it – she’s not willing to let it go.
It would be easy to think that she’s so beautiful, and that’s it, or take her skills as a model for granted. But Kate’s been honing her craft for more than 30 years”
I think what’s particularly alluring about her is that she has always been an enigma – she doesn’t court the press, doesn’t play that game, and that has helped feed the intrigue. She also has the X factor, that thing. We have always been obsessed with her because she is real; we sometimes see her a little worse for wear, her makeup not quite right, her eyes puffy. We want the life we know she leads – which has been played out in public – the gigs she goes to, the parties. She really is friends with the f***ing Rolling Stones! She has that appealing, carefree attitude that is so attractive. I remember when she left the Met Ball with her dress a little ripped – isn’t that so much sexier to a man than the beautiful girl who is so perfectly polished? She brings her bad-girl attitude to anything she does – and brands want that cool.
We have always been obsessed with her because she is real; we sometimes see her a little worse for wear, her makeup not quite right, her eyes puffy”
I think about how young she was when she lived with Johnny Depp. He was a proper movie star at the height of his career, and she was only 20 when they were dating. They went to Cannes [Film Festival] and to all these incredible places. He must have shown her an awful lot, plus her career took her all over the world at such a young age. These experiences have made her worldly and heightened her sense of occasion, which she brings to all that she does.
Kate wants to create memories, precious moments in time and for everything to be special – if we meet for a cup of tea in her garden, there will always be beautiful china, the right tablecloth and flowers. The whole portrait is perfect. She’s always thinking, “How can I turn this into the best moment?” It’s the same when she gets dressed for an evening out: “Where am I going, what’s it going to be like once I’m there, what type of dress will suit the location?” She makes it her own and she’ll say to us, “Right, we’re going here. It’s a smart restaurant so we should make an effort. Let’s all wear a dress.” And there we all are in our dresses. But first and foremost, she’s a girls’ girl. She looks out for us, her girlfriends, and she’s very clever with her advice; it’s worldly. She’ll tell you spot-on what you should do, and she encourages everyone to do well.
I think this moment sums Kate up – it was a summer’s night and we were a happy group of grown-ups and children. A big, bright moon was shining down on us and Kate immediately insisted that all the children climb up onto the roof of her house to get as close to it as possible, to absorb its energy. I remember her saying, “It’s a special moon.” She was so excited. The children were running to the roof, scrambling up it, and I have this mental image of us all lying down, bathing in the light of the moon, staring up at the stars, listening to Kate. We were all drawn to her and what she was saying, charmed and excited.
What we sometimes forget is that she’s navigating her position as a supermodel who is aging in the public eye, and yet our desire for her sustains. Has she changed from that waif I met so many years ago? Haven’t we all?
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