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The Muse

My interest in fashion was there from a very young age and because I was so interested in international fashion and because we did not have cable TV and the internet at that time (the way we have now in households) my Dad used to buy me fashion magazines. This was a special privilege and I treasured these magazines. I used to keep them for decades and finally having to throw them when they started to fall apart. I learnt so much from these, not only about fashion but also art photography, taste and a certain lifestyle.

This was the era of the Supermodel and every magazine had Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington (I still have a slavish love for her face), Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista. I didn’t actually think it was unreasonable of her to say she won’t get out of bed for less than $10,000, heck I did not want to get out of bed for a $ 1 million and go to school. They were the holy trinity. They were so glamorous, amazonian like with perfect hair and make up and razor sharp cheekbones. They always looked perfect and I used to look at these pictures for hours and study the styling , sometimes it looked so odd. I used to wonder who would actually wear those Christian Lacroix dresses.  They would have a jacked over a ballgown and curious accessories. It was a whole different world of perfection. Ultry high octane. Then somewhere in 1993 my father bought this, a copy of the British Vogue.

VoguecoverMar93_XL_320x421I remember looking at this and wondering who this girl was, who looked very much like me at that time, very thin scraggly even with un-stylized hair tied back in an careless bun, with barely there make up with her freckles on show . And as to why she was on the cover of Vogue.

I quickly turned the pages and went through the editorial layout, it was even more baffling because she was dressed in panties and tank tops and mucking about in the bedroom much like I would have if my mother had allowed me to walk around in my underwear.

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There was something so un-glamorous, so understated and raw about these images. It was as if suddenly Vogue was talking to ‘me’ not some very wealthy lady who could only buy those designer clothes they were selling. Despite all of that I could never forget the model. There was something so nonchalant, so cool about her that I instantly connected to. I did not know at that time it was the “Moss effect”. This cover revolutionized fashion, it ushered in the ‘waif look’ for good or for bad. It brought grunge and heroin chic and free spirit and the  wild child that the seventies only dared to dream about.

About the same time came the Calvin Klein Ads, no one who saw then would ever forget it. It was not sexy or SEX or any of that. There was a rawness, an honesty a vulnerability that Kate brought. She was of course very young at that time, around 19 but she had that presence, that ability to connect.

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Since then I have learnt a lot more about this powerful woman. On January 16th Kate Moss celebrated her 41st Birthday and 25 years in fashion. That is a long time and it’s not like she was away from fashion (apart from a year when she was in rehab) she was always there constantly working, her look has never been outdated. She never had to reinvent herself. She is so ever changing and ever fresh that we cannot really keep up. She had always been labeled a bit of a bad girl and she does not appear to be someone who is on crazy diets, neither does she had one of those flawless bodies. She drinks and smokes and probably does a lot worse and she has wrinkles around her eyes and lines and all that but she is fabulous why because it is obvious that she is too cool to fuss about that. She obviously does something to stay in shape but its never in your face and this is really the secret to her appeal and her incomparable sense of style. its effortless. She does everything you are told you shouldn’t do and still is stunning, making a hell of a living and having without any doubt whatsoever that greatest goddamn time on earth.

Be it her 100 hour parties with insane themes, the crazy all night hotel parties that are sometimes orgies, the substance abuse or the absolutely stunning way that she throws some clothes together that instantly makes us want it. It’s Kate’s unapologetic, effortless coolness that has us craving for more. Kate has always done exactly what she wants to do, without giving a fuck or trying to be correct. She does not pretend to be a role model or a ‘real woman’ ( a term I have come to detest because of the gross misinterpretation the term has been given recently) , she once famously said “nothing tastes quite as good as skinny”. She has a lifestyle that we only dare to dream about. She is one person who has not only just pushed the enveloped but shoved it so far up societies ass that it as come out of its mouth. She has always lived, right or wrong, good or bad exactly as she wants. That I admire a lot.

What I love about her is the fact despite being in front of the camera for over 2 decades people know very little about her. “Don’t complain, don’t explain is her motto” . She has only give one interview ( Vanity Fair) where she talks about herself. Other than that she does her job and lives the way she wants but she has definitely made an impact and has been one of the most influential people on earth. There is documented proof that high flying executives running retail empires have looked at their latest collections and asked “But would Kate war it?. Such is her power because the world that recognized that when it comes to Kate there is realness. She is not a wannabe, instead everyone want’s to be her. She is the ultimate icon, when you look at paparazzi pics of Kate you know it’s just her and it all depends on what her mood is that day, its so effortless unlike the celebrities we have these days .. like Jessica Alba, Taylor Swift or even from our own neighborhood Sonam Kapoor. It’s painfully obvious exactly how much effort and stylists had gone into the making of their look.  The effort is so visible that I want to scream. Just be yourself for fucks sake its much better than this ‘look’ you are trying to sell me.

She never does pretty. she will not be on the red carpet in a Disney princess tiered tulle dress and smiling coyly, if she wears a ballgown it will probably be a Galliano which says ‘fuck you’ more than a ‘hello’, there is always an edge. She also sticks by her friends and they do with her. When she was disgraced for the cocaine incident Galliano  and McQueen stood by her even Galliano was disgraced she was right there and he designed her wedding dress, which was a wonderful 1920’s inspired look, so appropriate for Kate who seems a modern day incarnate of the roaring 20’s.

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I have read a lot of interviews from photographers about Kate’s enduring influence on fashion and what they say is  it’s her mind, and looking at some of her great photographs you can see that, there is that one look that completely tells the story, whether she is dressed as a rocker, a hippie or a goddess. She is like a silent movie actress, she communicates that mood, that thought that brings the whole editorial together. Yet there is that stamp in each picture, that effervescent Moss effect. She is completely there in all honesty, so real and so raw. She is like the sphinx, mysterious yet completely transparent. In real life except for her very close friends no one really knows who Kate Moss is but you flip through a magazine and you will see so many different characters come to life.

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So this is my Birthday tribute to one of my icons. Kate you have rocked my world for two decades and inspired millions. Rock on!

My Favourite Kate looks!

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5 thoughts on “The Muse”

  1. For many she is the last supermodel. She is either loved or hated, but she cannot be ignored. That is her. Take it or still talk the shit about her , that is Kate Moss.

    She was the next change , the evolution on ramp, as much as the holy trinity were feted for their perfections and envy , Kate Moss presented a very real , grungy, flawed, relatable picture. And ofcourse “the waif-look”- I don’t know what I feel about that but I do think Moss gets a lot of unnecessary heat for it.

    I cannot forget her comeback moment with McQ, Galliano standing by her side. her friendship with Naomi is endearing, two of the biggest rockstars of the ramp world and both share a genuine affection is beautiful.

    I like how even though she has had many famous relationships , yet there has always been a sense privacy. Her family, her life-she seems to guard it all.

    She is stunning yet unapologetic,she wears her wrinkles , her skin with a fuck you attitude which is interesting considering the need for maintaining the perfection is so strong in her field.

    She is the party girl, she is the face of rebellion .

    Word on Alba, Sonam , Swift , Olivia P types- it’s almost as if they are walking talking look-books. it smells fake, desperation and as if the brands are wearing them. But with Kate- it’s never about the clothes but the attitude , her game. Still her line with Top Shop became such a hit because girls want a Kate Moss moment.

    Sigh – she be partying and laughing with I don’t give a shit attitude. She is an icon. Period.

    P.S. I love this column so much, Chani, adored your Kate Moss story.Loved a little bit more for the Galliano shout-out, he is freak, ass but a mad genius , so glad he is back in the game.

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    1. About her attitude, I’d say it’s now, but not so much then. Her silence most of the time was presumed to be a ‘fuck you’ attitude, while the designers and media hyped it up as truth. When she did speak, she played along due to inexperience and fear of career ruin. The industry wielded that threat over her like a sword and she succumbed. So, in reality, just as much a ‘fake’ as anyone else. but with more to lose considering she belonged to the industry and the actresses not so much. Not that I agree Alba doesn’t have her own style and power, because she does in my opinion.

      Beneath the media’s insistence that Kate’s attitude was everything, was a teen with insecurities and also body image issues. So, I guess the ‘rebellion’ was really the escape or just a kid lashing out at the very industry which first molded her to their liking and in doing that brought out her demons. Miley anyone? Even the supreme icon of all icons (and who can still dance circles around all of these women in the attitude department with both her feet bound) Madonna didn’t escape being crafted by those who stood to benefit)

      CK and McQueen played their shameless roles in Kate’s career both for the good and the bad.

      The Vanity Fair interview reveals quite a bit about her feelings as a teen sucked into the lethal world of fashion.

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  2. For a person like me, who is illiterate about international fashion, these fashion related posts are educative Chani. I felt good reading about Kate Moss. You are right – from the pictures, I can gather what makes her special is the effortless style which comes from being real – herself. Thanks for sharing!

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