Can You Copy the Kate Moss Style?

This is the second in the series on style from my website Aboutawomanaboutagirl

Can you take someone's style? Model Kate Moss has been on best dressed lists over and over. Recently she partnered (again) with Topshop to bank on her style signature. Can you buy her allure?

Kate Moss for Topshop

Kate Moss, Topshop, Photo courtesy of Think Retail, Flickr

The Kate Moss collection for  Topshop was released at Toronto’s Bay locations recently, to something of a fizzle rather than a pop.

That wasn’t the case in her hometown of London, England where her fashion fans lined the streets for the honour of shopping her eponymous line. But was it really worth it?

The flagship store on Oxford Street literally caused traffic standstill around the busy downtown locale and crowds were more than elbow deep with fans trying to catch a glimpse of the last great supermodel saying a few words on-stage.

Kate’s appeal is broad and democratic as noted by famed photographer, David Bailey. He should know – he has shot her as well as a litany of beauties, rock stars, and film-world giants over the last five decades or so.

‘They’re the most peculiar women,” says David Bailey (from an interview with The Telegraph UK), looking at his photographs of Jean Shrimpton and Kate Moss.

“I’ve never understood why everybody likes them so much. There are many more beautiful girls. But they’ve got this universal, democratic appeal. It’s like Dietrich and Garbo in movies, they’ve just got this thing that makes them stand out.”

And stand out she has, for the last few decades, in large part due to her own sartorial choices and not just her relentless appearance over the years in countless editorials, covers and ad campaigns.

CopyKate?:

Everyone wants to look and dress like Kate. She has given us a taste for ballet flats, gladiators, thong sandals, very skinny jeans tucked into very tall boots, scissored hems, vintage style, Vivienne Westwood footwear, the black  (tuxedo) jacket, capes, Wellingtons, army jackets, vests, aviators, Ray Ban wayfarers, scarves, hats, high-low dressing and God knows what else.

 It’s not so much that she’s invented any of these trends, she’s just ushered them in, like a fashion ambassador introducing the old with the new, juxtaposing the precious with the everyday. And on the way, she’s referenced countless images of beauties past: Twiggy, Marianne Faithful, Anita Pallenberg, Brigitte Bardot, Edie Sedgwick and on and on. It’s all been a strangely familiar fashion story and yet her style remains somewhat elusive.

Can’t Quite Match Mossy:

Why is that? It’s because no one else is Kate Moss. And although the aforementioned range at Topshop will undoubtedly do well, you can’t buy a piece of her allure. Not really. Let’s face it, the range is relatively inexpensive. It has to be, in order to be affordable to the young and reach a mass audience.

A Jean Desses-style dress for about $150? You know it’s not silk. It has to be made out of polyester or some such (although it does look quite good). Little camis with star embellishment, suede fringed jacket and shorts, a black jacket and pants with gold pinstripe? All look just a little on the tatty side, although the evening wear (as seen in photos here) looks quite good - that is also reflected in the price point. But that’s the thing: Kate’s style was never mass market or cheap per se.

Yes, she aptly mixes old and new, inexpensive and lavish in her repertoire like a seasoned curator. And the fact is she has the means to do so. Intertwine Saint Laurent and Chanel with Topshop if she so desires? Why not? Scissor off the hem of a rare vintage dress? Sure. Sequins during the day at Glastonbury and army jacket with a little black dress? Works for her. Jeans with Louboutins? Now everybody does it but she really was a harbinger in the mixing of luxe and low, and still does it better than anybody else. Kate Moss at the V&A, 2007

Vintage Kate Moss, Photo courtesy Laura Loveday, Flickr

 

Gives Good Face:

Then there’s Kate herself. That unparalleled bone structure that can look strangely common and uncanny and works for both high fashion, Playboy, and pretty much any brand you can think of.  Paired with a lithe body that just suits clothes and is not daunting, she is relatable.

And some people just wear clothes well. No one does rock chic better than Ms. Moss but she can also be ladylike and flower child. This coupled with a somewhat unexpected sex appeal gives her an edge. Don’t forget when Kate first appeared on the scene, models like Cindy Crawford were all the rage. Big girls with breasts, big hair, lips and legs to there. Kate is scrawny in comparison. So, yes, her growing sex appeal was a surprise at first.

But her particular brand of sexual presence makes her desirable to men, boys, women and girls – the whole gamut. And there’s a badass quality that she has honed into a kind of cachet that people on the street, as well as companies, want a piece of. That’s why she’s sultry selling you a NIkon camera or almost naked selling you the previously proper Stuart Weitzman shoes. Everyone gets an instant shot of cool by affiliation.

Icon/Art Inspiration:

And it’s not just fashion fans that are inspired. Industry insiders – from editors to designers to make-up artists and photographers – all clamour to work with her, yes. Curiously, artists of various stripes are just as taken with her. She has posed for Lucien Freud, Tracey Emin, Chuck Close and Marc Quinn, to name a few.

Kate Moss in Chatsworth

Marc Quinn sculpture of Kate Moss. Photo courtesy of Sarah Ager, Flickr

Boys in the Story:

Lastly, Kate’s got a back story. In the ’90s she was famously girlfriend to the sexiest guy on the planet: Johnny Depp. She was in the room when he had that meltdown at The Mercer (hotel in New York City) remember? Then there were her endless liaisons with indie-band darlings and assorted creatives like photographer Mario Sorrenti, Evan Dando, Antony Langdon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Liam Gallagher and Pete Doherty (before she got married to Kills musician, Jamie Hince).

Girl seemed to work hard and party harder flaunting her affinity for smoking, drinking, and just generally being up for it. And all the while looking like a sometimes dishevelled, million bucks.

She has (seemingly) lived a lifestyle many imagine would be fantastic but could never try themselves. Super-groupie/girlfriend to the hot, hotter, hottest guys, travelling the world, friends with the coolest designers, photographers and rock stars, going topless when it suited, rumours of all-night parties and at least one orgy, all the while teetering on a sometimes dangerous edge verging on debauchery (or so the tabloids would have us believe).

That was especially so when she was dating Babyshambles frontman, Pete Doherty. She was notoriously dubbed “Cocaine Kate” by the British tabloids when they were given and published photos of her allegedly using the drug with addiction-addled Pete. She had to enter rehab and come to grips with the fact that her image  and career couldbe tarnished or even damaged irreparably.

Kate with Nine Lives:

But in the end, her naughtiness just adds to the story and the interest we have in her. She somehow has been consistently able to gloss over the somewhat unsavoury details of her life with a sheen of beauty, style and cool and come out on top.

Kate makes the clothes come to life. Whatever she wears looks great. You can’t buy that. Like the vintage clothing she loves, she is one of a kind.

You can however, be inspired by her. She’s got a great eye and knows what works in terms of fashion and on herself, very well. So, buying a pair of ballet flats or Westwood-like pirate boots? OK. Buying an inexpensive copy of the exact dress she wore famously 10 years ago? Too costume-y in my humble opinion.

Her style is her and the Topshop line just doesn’t and can’t possibly capture all of Kate.

Rena Galanis

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