Kate Moss almost never gives interviews. Blame Johnny Depp, her onetime boyfriend. He taught her a lesson about fame – never complain, never explain – that she still follows to this day.
The irony is – and didn’t we always suspect this about her? – Moss, 42, loves to chat. In fact, that’s why she hates interviews, “because I talk too much,” she says. The truth is, she has a gift for it, spinning a yarn like the best kind of raconteur, her South London accent salting every word. And a conversation with her is peppered with the most delicious anecdotes. Here she is on one of her heroes: “I was really, really star-struck when I met Prince,” she begins. “[It was] with Donatella [Versace]; I was lying down on Donatella’s bed, in her suite, and she was talking about him, and I was like, ‘Why do you keep talking about Prince?’ And she went, ‘He’s there!’ I sat up, and he was sitting at the end of the bed. Oh my god, I couldn’t talk. Or look at him, really. [But then] I was like, ‘You should buy one of these catsuits, they’re amazing!’ You know, it was that sequin all-in-one catsuit I was wearing…”
Chances are you are already Googling the catsuit in question or, more likely, you know exactly the one she is referring to. That’s the thing about Moss: we have spent years parsing her style, charting her every outfit and earmarking our favorites, in the hope of borrowing a little of her cool. And it’s not just the sparkly catsuits; her dress-down moments have set whole trends in motion, particularly the Glastonbury festival looks: the waistcoats, the belts, the shirts-as-dresses with wellies. Only Kate Moss could make wellies that desirable.
“I was star-struck when I met Prince. I couldn’t look at him. [But then] I was like, ‘Buy one of these catsuits!’”
For today’s interview, she has turned up in what she calls her “work outfit”: skinny black jeans, a black cargo jacket over her shoulders, a black top, black boots, a black handbag and black sunglasses. “I can’t be bothered to get a look together,” she says of her daywear now. “But at night, I love dressing up. I go all out.”
She may be dismissive of her day-to-day style but, for most of us, ‘unbothered’ Kate represents the pinnacle of wardrobe goals. Which is why the idea of a new fashion collaboration, with another bastion of cool, French contemporary label Equipment, comprising some of Moss’ favorite prints – lightning bolts, stars, leopard – has us itching to own it.
“It’s just the kind of things I would wear,” explains Moss. “I’ve worn Equipment shirts a lot before, because my husband [The Kills musician Jamie Hince, though the couple are understood to be estranged] would wear them, and I would be like, ‘Ooh!’ And then I started stealing his. It’s the way that I like to dress. You know, when you just throw on a silk shirt and feel good in it. It’s kind of that tomboy but sexy dressing I feel comfortable in for the day.”
These days, Moss stores all of her clothes, that vast archive of iconic pieces, off-grid. “I’ve got a special, secret place,” she reveals. Where? “I’m not telling or somebody will burgle me. I learned the Rolling Stones have an archive and nobody knows where it is, even their children!” Is it like a hangar of clothes? “No hangar,” she scoffs. “I’ve lost a lot of stuff over the years, but I’ve still got some.” And what will she do with it all? “I’ll save it for my daughter [Lila Grace, 13, with former partner Jefferson Hack]. I bought her an Ossie Clark dress, you know the one that Twiggy wore in that Richard Avedon [shoot], that white chiffon with leaves on? She doesn’t like anything at the moment. Fingers crossed [she will].”
“[With artists], it’s not about work, it’s about the honor of being able to sit with them. They tell you crazy things”
The campaign for Moss’ Equipment line was shot at her house in the Cotswolds, where she escapes every weekend (“It’s just heaven, being able to walk around and have space, without people being there”). Also in the pictures are her friend Susie Bick and Moss’ goddaughter, Ella Richards, 20, daughter of Lucie de la Falaise and Marlon Richards.
“Aw, I love her,” the supermodel says of Richards. “Now she comes to my parties, and her parents don’t. She stays at my house, and they go, what’s she doing? And I’m like, she’s fine. It’s so much fun! She says, ‘I’ve got nothing to wear.’ And I’m like, ‘Here, darling!’ She’s the same size shoe, it’s perfect!” Frankly, who wouldn’t want Moss as a godmother?
“I’m watching, though,” she insists. “I’m like Mama Kate, I have so many godchildren. I’m really strict, but I think they quite like it. [Lila] says that I’m stricter than other parents.” How? Does she nag her about homework? “No, I don’t, because she knows, she does it on her own. No, I’ll go like this” – she lifts her sunglasses and fixes me with a stare – “and I don’t have to say anything. You’ve got to get a look down. Girls, you have to scare them, otherwise they will take over.” What about boys? Would she like a boy someday? “Yeah, I like boys,” she decides, before clarifying that she’s just a fan of kids, period. “Adults can be so boring,” she explains.
Not her, though. Boring is never a word associated with Moss. However, despite the frenzy that surrounds her, I believe it when she says: “I think I’m normal. I don’t know why everyone makes out I’m mental.” Because she does seem normal; extraordinary looking on camera, but a more contained beauty in person. And game for a laugh. No airs or graces. No diva behavior. The biggest demand I hear her make on today’s set is for McDonald’s instead of the healthy catered lunch that the crew is eating. “Cheeseburger and fries,” she confirms. “I can’t do lentils at work.”
“I like comedy; I like taking the p**s out of myself. I wouldn’t feel comfortable being serious”
Needless to say, Moss loves a good joke. “I just like comedy; I like taking the p**s out of myself,” she says. “I’m comfortable with that. I wouldn’t feel comfortable being serious.” So, when she was asked to cameo in the new Absolutely Fabulous film, she didn’t hesitate. “It was just amazing to be in a room with [the characters] Eddie and Patsy and Saffy and Bubbles; it was like a dream. It was 10.30 in the morning and Eddie was opening bottles of champagne for me, real bottles. They were like, ‘We usually use ginger ale, but for you we got real Bolly!’”
From the film’s trailer, we already know Moss ends up in the River Thames. I don’t envy her that, I say. “Yeah, but Lulu was in there before me, and Bubbles. It was quite funny because people came up to me [after being in the filthy water], using antiseptic wipes and stuff, and I was like, ‘Oh, I have been there, completely.’ I mean, after being a model for 25 years, that doesn’t bother me.” After that quarter-century at the top, Moss loves branching out. She tells me about an upcoming project with war photographer Don McCullin. “He hasn’t done models, ever,” she says, excited. “He’s a legend. I just want to hear his stories. I was like, can we do [the portraits] over a few weekends, because I don’t want to have one day and just work, I want to get to know you. That was the thing about Lucian [Freud, who painted a nude of Moss while pregnant],” she says. “I got to know him so well! For nine months. That is the great thing about being able to meet those people, artists. It’s not so much about the work, or doing the modeling or the picture, it’s about just listening to the stories, and having that honor of being able to sit with them, and they tell you these crazy things. But Lucian couldn’t paint and talk at the same time, so I would be like, ‘Luc, stop talking!’”
“I knew David Bowie would always have my back, like Lee McQueen. There are people who believe in you”
When talk turns inevitably to a music legend whose style Moss frequently channels, a whole other window on her world opens up.
“It was such a shock. I can’t believe it really,” Moss says of her friend David Bowie’s death. “I hadn’t seen him for a while, but he always sends me a message on my birthday, well, he has done for the last few years.” Two days before he died, she says, “I was wearing [Ziggy Stardust-esque] purple boots to dinner, and somebody said, ‘Are you wearing those because it’s Bowie’s birthday?’ And I was like, oh my God, I’ve got to do something. So I sent him a video – ‘Happy birthday DB’ on a big piece of paper, and then I did Mr Bojangles behind it, hiding. I don’t know if he got it.”
I ask what Bowie was like as a friend. “I knew he would always have my back,” says Moss. “Like Lee [Alexander] McQueen. There are people who believe in you, that don’t give a s*** what people say. And [Bowie] was one of them. He would read [or] he heard stuff, and he would check in, ‘Are you alright?’ When Bowie [sticks up for you], you feel better: ‘It’s fine, Bowie loves me, I don’t care what others think.’”
As fashion’s much-loved rebel, it would be a surprise if she ever did.
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