Katherine Ann Moss (born 16 January 1974) is an English model and businesswoman. Born in Croydon, Greater London, she was discovered in 1988 at age 14 by Sarah Doukas, founder of Storm Model Management, at JFK Airport in New York City.
Arriving at the end of the “supermodel era”, Moss rose to fame in the mid 1990s as part of the heroin chic fashion trend. Her collaborations with Calvin Klein brought her to fashion icon status. She is known for her waifish figure, and role in size zero fashion. She received an award at the 2013 British Fashion Awards to acknowledge her contribution to fashion over 25 years. Moss is also a contributing fashion editor for British Vogue.
Moss has had her own clothing range and has been involved in musical projects. She has won accolades for modelling. In 2007, Time named her one of the world’s 100 most influential people. She has inspired cultural depictions including a £1.5m ($2.8m) 18 carat gold statue of her, sculpted in 2008 for a British Museum exhibition.
She received media scrutiny for her party lifestyle and drug use. Drug allegations beginning in late 2005 led to her being dropped from fashion campaigns. She was cleared of charges and resumed modelling. In 2012, she came second on the Forbes top-earning models list, with estimated earnings of $9.2 million in one year.
Beginnings and heroin chic
Moss was discovered in 1988 at 14 by Sarah Doukas, founder of Storm Model Management, at JFK Airport in New York, after a holiday in The Bahamas. Corinne Day shot black-and-white photographs of her, styled by Melanie Ward, for The Face when she was 16, in a shoot titled “The 3rd Summer of Love”. Moss was presented as a young unknown, and Day described the pictures as “dirty realism” or “grunge”.
Moss then featured in the Levi’s campaign ‘Levis for Girls’, with great success, set up by The Design Corporation and again shot by Corinne Day. A further shoot followed for The Face, by Tony Briggs, entitled “Haute Coiffure”, Moss went on to become the “anti-supermodel” of the 1990s in contrast to the models of the moment, such as Cindy Crawford, Elle Macpherson, Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell, who were known for curvaceous and tall figures.
Moss featured in the fashion look heroin chic in 1996 (which prompted speculation over her weight) with a campaign for Calvin Klein. Then-US President Bill Clinton spoke out against the trend. Moss said, “It was just the time. It was a swing from more buxom girls like Cindy Crawford and people were shocked to see what they called a ‘waif’. What can you say? How many times can you say ‘I’m not anorexic’?”
On 20 September 2005, the Swedish fashion retailer H&M dropped her from its campaign of autumn clothes designed by Stella McCartney because of drug allegations. The contract was reportedly worth £4 million a year. A day later, Chanel said it would not renew its contract with Moss, which was to expire that October, although its decision had nothing to do with the drug scandal. Burberry dropped Moss’s campaign with them. Moss apologised, though stopped short of admitting drug use.
Moss appeared in ad campaigns for Dior. She was on the cover of the November 2005 W and also inside in a multi-page fashion shoot. She was defended by designer Alexander McQueen, who, during his walk-out after a fashion show, wore a T-shirt saying “We love you Kate”. Artist Stella Vine also supported Moss, and paintings by Vine, painted during the scandal, were exhibited and reproduced in the press.
On 5 January 2006, the London Metropolitan Police asked Moss to return from the US to Britain to answer questions about the September 2005 cocaine scandal. On 16 June 2006, British police dropped the charges for lack of evidence. Ultimately, Moss was cleared of all charges and resumed her modelling career. In 2015 Moss was escorted off an Easyjet flight by police after she became disruptive.
In early 2010, she designed handbags for Longchamp. In 2012, Moss modelled for the spring-summer collection for Supreme. Moss has represented Mango since 2011. In November 2012, Australian model Miranda Kerr replaced Moss for spring/summer 2013.
In January 2012, having seen Dutch illusionist Hans Klok on the BBC’s The One Show, Moss recommended Stella McCartney book him for London Fashion Week the following month. It was planned that Moss, a magic fan, would be Klok’s assistant, and she rehearsed three illusions, a levitation, a sawing in half and a guillotine illusion. However, she dropped out with temporary paralysis of her right arm due to a trapped nerve, and her place was taken by Alexa Chung.
Also in 2012, Moss appeared in the video of George Michael’s White Light, inspired by his pneumonia. Moss performed with Naomi Campbell in the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games on 12 August 2012.
Moss posed nude for the 60th-anniversary issue of Playboy in December 2013. That same month, she received a Special Recognition award at the British Fashion Awards to acknowledge her contribution to fashion during her 25-year career.
At the 2014 Brit Awards in February, Moss collected David Bowie’s Brit Award for Best British Male, while wearing a one-piece printed “woodland creatures” costume, as worn originally by Bowie. On 30 April 2014, Moss’s second collection for Topshop was unveiled. Her first collection with Topshop resulted in a long-lasting relationship with the brand.