Monday, October 16, 2006


On September 25th, 2005, ran an article entitled "The Rise and Fall of Kate Moss". After H&M cancelled its new contract with Moss and Chanel refused to renew their campaign with the model, writer Rebecca Traister wrote, "Now it's mostly a question of falling dominoes. Moss, who reportedly makes $9 million a year, will surely lose most, if not all, of her current gigs. Who will want to keep her on, when to do so would signal brazen public support of a woman whose drug use is now being investigated by Scotland Yard?"

That's a great question, Rebecca. The answer is, many.

Almost a year after this Salon article was written, Moss has been crowned by "British experts" (whoever these people are) as the most influential celebrity in the world. Calling Traister's prediction inaccurate would be an understatement. Like the waif's cocaine habit, Moss's career is almost at an all-time high with no sign of letting up. With current campaigns advertising for Rimmel, Agent Provocateur, Virgin Mobile, Belstaff, Beymen, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Roberto Cavalli, Longchamp, Stella McCartney, Bulgari, Chanel, Nikon, David Yurman, Versace, Mia Shvili, Calvin Klein Jeans and Burberry, you could almost say Moss is the busiest she's ever been. For shame.

In September 2005, I would have said Traister was right. I mean, how could she not be? Blatant and public drug abuse? Constant entanglement with a petty criminal posing as a musician? Raising a two-year-old daughter in a completely dysfunctional environment? Surely, an example like Moss needs to be reconsidered by society.

But the other week, I was flipping through a copy of Vanity Fair--incidentally, Moss was on the cover--and realized there's something inherently wrong here.

Fully aware that the fashion world is not the arbiter of morals, I have low expectations but commissioning Kate's impeccable, perfect beauty for nine ads in one magazine is simply irresponsible. If Moss is in fact the most influential celebrity in the world, we are doing nothing to stop this. Yes, she's a perfect human specimen, but weren't we all told that looks aren't everything?

First, what's wrong with a cocaine habit? Interesting question. We're not naive. We know everyone in the fashion industry does coke and also chain smokes. The two are integral to maintaining a model-body. Presumably, thought, Moss's habit is beyond dabbling if she's cutting lines in a wide open environment (in a recording studio where she unapologetically snorted five lines). It would be a disservice to her and her child to condone this habit. Saldy, this is exactly what we're doing.

Traister continues, "What this drama has done is lay bare the ugly skeleton that holds up a fashion industry that for some time has prized hollow cheeks and vacant eyes, stunted, prepubescent frames, and jutting collar bones from which fabric drapes beautifully. In other words, the body that is appealing to designers -- and thus to consumers -- is a body that looks like it has been ravaged by drugs. In order to stay employed, models must maintain this shape; to maintain the shape they must do something besides eat right and exercise regularly. Whether it's cocaine or speed or heroin or caffeine or cigarettes or anorexia or bulimia or some combination of the above, most adult women cannot get bodies that look like Moss' healthily, because hers is not a healthy body."

True. But it's a body that mainstream corporations like Calvin Klein and Nikon are all too eager to show off. In a press release touting the Moss/Nikon merger, the executive creative director of the campaign Bill Oberlander (who I once worked for) said, ""From the moment she started modeling, she's transcended the modeling industry and has been the icon for fashion and sophistication."

Looking beyond the superficial, if possible, Moss is actually the opposite of sophistication. She's a drug addict in a dysfunctional, abusive relationship. By hiring Moss, the fashion industry inadvertently condones this lifestyle. Beautiful people do truly ugly things. Don't you want to be beautiful?

In the recent Forbes article "Moss Appeal", the magazine asks, Are we on the verge of Kate Moss overkill?

For her sake, and for ours, one could only answer, I hope so.


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