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Kate Moss: years of misery as the world's most famous model

Published: November 5 2012 - 3:00AM

After more than 20 years in the fashion business the model has chosen to reveal how terrible it has all been for her, writes William Langley.

Kate Moss isn't known for weighty pronouncements, which, given the standard of the light ones, may be just as well. The world's most famous model - an accolade she shows no sign of relinquishing at 38 - has preferred to let the pictures do the talking.

Occasionally, though, it can be useful to share confidences, and such a moment has arrived with the publication of a book to mark her 20-plus years in the business.

What comes across from the interview she has given to the latest edition of Vanity Fair is how poorly understood this south London barmaid's daughter really is. The idea that being rich, beautiful and fawned over by fashion houses, magazine editors and famous photographers is something to envy gets knocked on the head in a few heartbreaking sentences.

Moss reveals that she is so insecure that ''I don't want to be myself, ever'', and says that as a 16-year-old she was coerced into taking her clothes off for the shoot that made her name, and had a nervous breakdown a year later. She carried on only to find herself accused of glamourising heroin and anorexia.

The real culprit, she says, was hunger. Earning a crust in the fashion trade was one thing. Laying your hands on one was another. Thus reduced to a state of sunken-eyed hollowness, Moss found she had created a signature ''waif'' style that quickly replaced the old, relatively curvy look of the 1980s.

Vanity Fair doesn't explore the mystery of why other models managed to grab a sandwich while Moss couldn't, instead moving on to the next phase of misery, precipitated by her being dumped by Hollywood actor Johnny Depp.

Moss and Depp were quite an act. Furniture sailed through the air, restaurants resounded to the sound of their rows. On one occasion, when police were called to a New York hotel, they discovered the couple sitting amid a pile of debris that Depp claimed had been caused by a giant armadillo he had found hiding in the wardrobe.

''There's nobody that's ever really been able to take care of me,'' she laments.

And while Moss may protest that the heroin-chic label was unjustified, because ''I had never even taken heroin'', there have been years of drug and drink abuse culminating in an infamous front page photograph of her chopping up lines of cocaine in a London recording studio where her then boyfriend, the smacked-out rock calamity Pete Doherty, was making an album. Can it really be this grim at the top of the fashion ladder? Or has Moss's lack of expertise in conveying anything other than the most prosaic thoughts on life and work let her down when it matters? There is plenty in her story to celebrate. By parading her imperfections, she helped free fashion from its stylised self-constraints and developed an uncanny appeal - which she has never lost - to the ordinary clothes buyer.

''Women care about and connect with her in a way that they do with no other model,'' a London fashion editor says. ''She has that chink of ordinariness; she's accessible and she convinces women that if they buy something it might just give them a sniff of her allure.''

Telegraph, London

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