Kate Moss at 50: Fashion’s ’90s Bad Girl is Now a Boss Lady Focussed on Wellness

Kate Moss

Kate Moss attends the 2022 Met Gala celebrating 'In America: An Anthology of Fashion' at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2022. Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images

Kate Moss marked the 5-0 milestone on Jan. 16, which is a big turning of a generational page. It is with an alchemical combination of schadenfreude and relief that the eternally luminous model has actually accrued a precipitous number of cake candles, like the rest of us. Alas, her preternatural beauty still defies both gravity and the ravages of a life that, up until recently, was quite fully lived. 

From gap-toothed teenage sensation through her notorious bad girl party years, she has emerged as a boss lady, complete with her own modelling agency and a new wellness brand. 

The ’90s are back in fashion, but this new version is a sanitized one: we have the slip dresses and the platforms, the minimalism and the mom jeans, the chokers and the flannels, but what we don’t have is the charismatic image of Kate Moss everywhere. The woman who made famous the phrase “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” is now a mom herself, counselling, no doubt, a balanced breakfast.

Kate Moss has surfed the zeitgeist magnificently, managing to represent both the best and the worst of our impulses in every era since she was discovered at JFK airport at age 14. On the heels of the OG supermodels, she burst onto the fashion scene in 1990 in a series of photographs taken by Corinne Day that appeared in The Face magazine. They were the opposite of the glamour vibe of the day: stark, black and white, no makeup, not really much in the way of clothes. Moss became an antidote to all that glittered, and those photographs marked the turn toward unadorned that lead directly to the grunge movement in both fashion and music.

Standing at just 5’7”, Moss also broke the unspoken Amazonian height barrier for models that came before. She was flat as a tomboy and a completely unconventional beauty. But what she brought to the culture was that most elusive of qualities: the “It” factor. You just couldn’t stop looking at her. You still can’t. The camera loved her: she couldn’t take a bad photograph if she tried.

Like another iconic, time-transcendent muse – Carolyn Bessette Kennedy – we have seldom heard Moss’s voice, one she never bothered to try to upgrade from its rough-and-tumble, vowel-chewing Croydon roots. Her essence has always been her authenticity. She also utilized silence to get through many scandals that would have shelved the careers of lesser stars.

When she was signed to Calvin Klein and began posing in her underwear in 1992, the media glommed on to the idea of her thinness being an unhealthy role model. The sobriquet “heroin chic” was born. 

Moss’ own hard partying lifestyle did little to quiet the concerns of the moral majority. She went from a tempestuous relationship with Johnny Depp (circa ’94 through ’98ish) that involved many smashed up hotel rooms and ended, for Moss, with a sojourn at the posh English celebrity dry-out retreat The Priory. 

In many ways, Moss and Depp together embodied the ’90s – the decadence, the irreverence, the dive-bar rebellion, the live-for-today attitude. Of all the movie stars and royals and the many, many models I’ve crossed paths with in my years in the field, seeing Kate and Johnny together, necking and pawing each other in a combustible display of PDA in a corner booth at the Ritz in Paris one fashion week circa 1996, was for me a more searing pop culture sighting than Dick and Liz. 

In the book Champagne Supernovas, about the scene-makers of the ’90s and how they supercharged the fashion landscape, author Maureen Callahan observed of Moss and Depp: “Both had ravenous appetites for alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and sex.” Their lives were public fodder.


Depp threw Moss’ 21st birthday party at The Viper Room, the exclusive and debauched L.A. Club he owned at the time. Donatella Versace threw Moss a banger of a 25th birthday party in Paris, in 1999. By the time her 30th birthday rolled around in 2004, Moss was now a mom to daughter Lila Grace, with her then-boyfriend Jefferson Hack, founder of Dazed Media.

Gorgeous, rich and racy, Moss took her career from strength to strength in her 30s, despite her bad girl image. But she hit the wall in 2005 when The Daily Mirror published photos of her appearing to snort cocaine at a party when she was dating notorious rock star Pete Doherty of The Libertines. She was whisked off to rehab in the American desert, amid the loss of many of her highest profile fashion and beauty contracts. 

But then something fabulously unprecedented and unexpected happened. Moss rebuilt her empire, stone by stone, and emerged somehow miraculously unscathed by her tumultuous past. As she told BBC’s Desert Island Discs in 2022, she felt she took the blame for the wide circle of famous and rich friends who all indulged at the time. This interview is important because Moss has so very, very rarely spoken up about her side of any story. She learned from Depp to emulate the royal motto of Never Complain, Never Explain.

“I felt sick and quite angry, because everyone knew I took drugs. So for them to focus on me, and try to take my daughter away, was quite hypocritical.” The fashion elites, however, continued to support her, transforming the trajectory of the scandal into a redemption arc. Alexander McQueen notably projected a hologram of Moss onto his runway in 2006, which was like a bat signal to the fashion world that he had her back. 

In the intervening years, Moss married and divorced Jamie Hince, guitarist for The Killers, and has had an on-again/off-again relationship with the younger aristocrat Count Nikolai von Bismarck.


Nikolai von Bismarck and Kate Moss seen leaving the Ritz Hotel to celebrate her 50th birthday on January 16, 2024, in Paris. Photo: Pierre Suu/GC Images/Getty Images


The theme for the beginning of her fourth decade, a party held at Claridge’s Hotel in London, was “The Beautiful and the Damned,” F. Scott Fitzergerald’s novel that crashes up against “the shoals of dissolution,” exposing the moral corruption of money and decadence. Girl certainly knew how to throw a middle finger up at her own reputation.

She started her own business, the Kate Moss Agency, in 2016, and launched the career of daughter Lila Grace, now 21.

Lila Grace has become a modelling star in her own right, and an advocate for juvenile diabetes, wearing her insulin pump on the runway. Kate’s last scandal was when she was pulled off an EasyJet flight drunk in 2015 after a week-long detox. She has embarked on a sober lifestyle since 2018.

Lila Moss and Kate Moss attend The 2023 Met Gala celebrating Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2023. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images


Moss today is a very different person. She is a grown up.

Testifying on behalf of Johnny Depp in his civil trial with Amber Heard in 2022, she appeared via video testimony, describing her former beau as someone who had run to her aid when she slipped down the stairs on an exotic vacation and who had never been violent towards her in their intimate relationship.

Moss emerged as the one person from that circus of a trial who was a trusted source of reason. She was the former hell-raiser now clad in a polka-dot pussy bow blouse to underscore her earned credibility. 

Moss has always played it cool – cool is her stock in trade after all – but that doesn’t mean the years of people’s assumptions didn’t sink in and niggle at her core. In a recent BBC interview she said: “I was a scapegoat for a lot of people’s problems. I was never anorexic … 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.”

Also in that interview, Moss revealed that those early Calvin Klein ads with then-rapper Marky Mark, now actor Mark Wahlberg, had been uncomfortable for her, saying she felt “objectified and vulnerable and scared.” So even if she appeared cool, the “magic” of photography and fashion’s smoke and mirrors obscured the real feelings of a teenager with completely normal anxiety. Talking about it now is a way Moss can help the industry move forward.

Meanwhile, her new wellness venture, Cosmoss, focusses on sacred fragrances, beauty products and teas. Sure, that’s gonna raise a few eyebrows – the reformed party girl pulls a 180 and starts to peddle luxury health products.

But you know what? Good for her. This woman somehow lived through the firestorm of her early fame and turned her life around. Now mainly a country gal, she focusses on making Sunday roasts with vegetables harvested fresh from her Cotswolds garden, does Transcendental Meditation in the morning and moonbathing at night, and is committed to an 11 p.m. bedtime.

She still has a sneaky cig now and again, and recharges her crystals under a full moon. You can make fun of that all you want. But if this is where she has landed, I, for one, celebrate her.

And I will charge any crystals necessary to look quite so good as she still does, even after the mileage her high-octane, high-profile life put on her odometer.


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