As the queen of the catwalk for three decades, interview-shy Kate Moss has usually adopted the Queen’s famous unofficial motto: ‘Never complain, never explain.’
But in a candid interview on Desert Island Discs today, the supermodel reveals the toxic truth about exploitation in the fashion industry and how, as a young teenager, she was targeted by sexual predators.
Now 48, she recalls being reduced to tears by photographers who pressured her to go topless. At 15, the self-conscious teenager was even forced to flee one session when she was asked to remove her bra.
In a candid interview on Desert Island Discs today, the Kate Moss, pictured, reveals the toxic truth about exploitation in the fashion industry and how, as a young teenager, she was targeted by sexual predators
‘I had a horrible experience for a bra catalogue,’ she tells the BBC Radio 4 programme. ‘I was only 15 probably and he said, “Take your top off”, and I took my top off. And I was really shy then about my body.
‘And he said, “Take your bra off”, and I could feel there was something wrong so I got my stuff and I ran away. I think it sharpened my instincts. I can tell a wrong ’un a mile away.’
Teenaged Kate, who signed to the Storm modelling agency in 1988 at the age of 14, would travel across London unaccompanied, completing up to eight modelling assignments a day.
During the radio show, she speaks about the shoot in 1990 that made her famous – but admits that revisiting the memory remains ‘painful’.
The late photographer Corinne Day, with whom Moss often worked, shot a series of photographs for The Face magazine on the beach at Camber Sands, East Sussex, when she was 16.
Moss says: ‘That scrunched up nose that is on the cover, she would say, “Snort like a pig” to get that picture. And I would be like, “I don’t want to snort like a pig”, and she would be like, “Snort like a pig, that’s when it looks good”.’
The model recalls how she had ‘cried a lot’ during the shoot because she was uncomfortable about being ‘naked’, adding: ‘I didn’t want to take my top off.
Teenaged Kate, who signed to the Storm modelling agency in 1988 at the age of 14, would travel across London unaccompanied, completing up to eight modelling assignments a day
‘I was really, really self-conscious about my body and she would say, “If you don’t take your top off I am not going to book you for Elle”, and I would cry. It is painful because she was my best friend and I really loved her – but she was a very tricky person to work with.
‘But… the pictures are amazing so she got what she wanted and I suffered for them, but in the end they did me a world of good, really. They did change my career.’
Moss also recalls shooting an underwear campaign for Calvin Klein in 1992 with Hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg, known at the time as Marky Mark. It was her first major advertising campaign but the then 17-year-old had to take Valium to ease her anxiety, caused by the prospect of going topless.
Asked by presenter Lauren Laverne if she felt objectified during the campaign, Moss replies: ‘Yes completely, and vulnerable and scared. I think they played on my vulnerability, and I was quite young and innocent, so Calvin loved that.’
Moss emerged from these early challenges to become one of the most iconic and powerful figures in international fashion, boasting an inner circle that includes some of the world’s biggest celebrities.
But the highs have been accompanied by lows and Moss speaks frankly about her battles with drink and drugs which almost derailed her career. She recalls her wild youth growing up in Croydon, South London, when she first went off the rails at 13 after her parents split.
She also reflects on the drugs scandal which threatened to destroy her career in 2005. She temporarily lost several lucrative contracts when a national newspaper published photos which appeared to show her taking cocaine
‘I started smoking spliffs and hanging with people a lot older than me, a lot of older boys that kind of took me under their wing and protected me,’ she says.
‘They would take me to London on the train. I would get changed from my school uniform into clothes and go to Fred’s [a bar in Soho]. I didn’t even like the taste of alcohol.
‘I would drink Long Island Ice Teas because it didn’t taste of alcohol, but then of course it is a strong drink.’
She also reflects on the drugs scandal which threatened to destroy her career in 2005. She temporarily lost several lucrative contracts when a national newspaper published photos which appeared to show her taking cocaine.
Her career resumed, however, when police decided there was not enough evidence to take action.
‘I felt sick and was quite angry because everybody I knew took drugs so for them to focus on me and to try and take my daughter away, I thought was really hypocritical,’ she says.
The star also rejects the idea that she and Day deliberately created the hugely controversial look dubbed ‘heroin chic’ when they collaborated again on a shoot at the model’s home for Vogue in 1993.
‘I think I was a scapegoat for a lot of people’s problems,’ she says. ‘I was never anorexic, I never have been. I had never taken heroin.
‘I was thin because I didn’t get fed at shoots or in shows and I had always been thin. It was a fashion shoot. It was shot at my flat and that is how I could afford to live at the time.
‘And I think it was a shock because I wasn’t voluptuous and I was just a normal girl. I wasn’t a glamazon model, and that shocked them.’
Despite being one of the world’s most photographed women, Moss says she hates having her picture taken outside the workplace
Despite being one of the world’s most photographed women, Moss says she hates having her picture taken outside the workplace.
‘I am actually really shy in front of the camera. I don’t like having my picture taken when it’s not at work,’ she says. ‘I don’t like having selfies or snapshots. I find it difficult to be myself in front of a camera. I find it much easier to be somebody else.’
She has now set up her own model agency, which has on its books her 19-year-old daughter, Lila.
Moss, who recently sold her North London home to move to the Cotswolds, says she has ditched her ‘boring’ hedonistic lifestyle and discovered a new passion that she can share with her mother Linda.
‘I am obsessed with gardening,’ she says. ‘I have got a membership to the garden centre, and I go with my mum and we have the best time.’
Her musical choices for the show include George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord, Harvest Moon by Neil Young and a specially remixed version of Back To Life by Soul II Soul featuring Kanye West’s Sunday Service Choir.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is her book of choice and a cashmere blanket is her luxury item.
- Desert Island Discs is on today at 11.15am and will be repeated on Friday at 9am.
Kate Moss reveals the truth about Johnny Depp — and her Freud tattoo — in Desert Island Discs
Lucian Freud left an indelible mark on Kate Moss when he inked a tattoo on her thigh while she was sitting for a portrait.
Recalling their friendship, she says that the celebrated artist, who died in 2011 aged 88, originally suggested a chicken upside down in a bucket for a design, but they settled on a more traditional image.
She says: ‘He gave me a bottle of really good Rothschild wine, and he got out his etching needle and scraped into my thigh a flock of birds which now look like varicose veins. But I am still probably the only living person with a Lucian Freud on my thigh.’
Lucian Freud left an indelible mark on Kate Moss when he inked a tattoo on her thigh while she was sitting for a portrait
Kate Moss also caused a sensation earlier this year when she gave video evidence in support of ex boyfriend Johnny Depp in his libel trial against Amber Heard, who had mentioned a rumour that the model had been pushed down the stairs by the actor when they were dating
For Freud’s acclaimed 2002 portrait, Moss posed nude while heavily pregnant with daughter Lila. The painting took around nine months to complete and was later sold to an anonymous bidder for £3.9 million.
Moss prides herself on her loyalty to friends. In 2011, she publicly defended fashion designer John Galliano when he was found guilty by a French court of making antisemitic comments.
She also caused a sensation earlier this year when she gave video evidence in support of ex boyfriend Johnny Depp in his libel trial against Amber Heard, who had mentioned a rumour that the model had been pushed down the stairs by the actor when they were dating.
Explaining her stance, Moss says: ‘I believe in the truth, and I believe in fairness and justice. I know that John Galliano is not a bad person – he had an alcohol problem and people turn. People aren’t themselves when they drink, and they say things that they would never say if they were sober.’
She adds: ‘I know the truth about Johnny [Depp]. I know he never kicked me down the stairs. I had to say that truth.’
Depp, who was in a relationship with Moss between 1994 and 1998, won the lawsuit against his ex wife Heard last month.