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Interview: Kate Moss

by Penny Martin on 3 March 2003

Supermodel, fashion pin-up and Pop culture icon: the second celebrity interviewed as part of our In Camera series was British model Kate Moss. Following the birth of her first child Lila Grace in September 2002 and in the first major interview of her career, Moss gave candid responses to over 100 questions from friends, fans and fashionistas worldwide.

This interview was showcased online with a series of live stills updated throughout the course of the interview, and a real-time transcript typed and edited live.

Supermodel, fashion pin-up and Pop culture icon: the second celebrity interviewed as part of our In Camera series was British model Kate Moss. Following the birth of her first child Lila Grace in September 2002 and in the first major interview of her career, Moss gave candid responses to over 100 questions from friends, fans and fashionistas worldwide.

92 Q&A Posts

  • Q. Kate Moss, we have invited you to participate in our series of interviews with major image-makers because you occupy the roles of both image and image-maker. Not only are you one of the most talked-about and desired women on earth, you rose to fame during a decade where fashion became a mainstream cultural concern. You are the face of a British youth movement shaped by the end of Thatcherism, dance culture and new technology. Does any of that make you happy? Penny Martin, Editor in Chief, SHOWstudio, London
    Yes, it definitely makes me happy that I'm part of a period of such cultural change. However, I don't think about me being a desired woman, or as being talked about, because that would make me paranoid.
  • Q. What did it feel like to see yourself on the cover of The Face in July 1990? Charlotte Cotton, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
    I was really embarrassed because there were pictures of me topless inside. I was still at school of course, so I got a lot of stick because I was so flat-chested.
  • Q. Before modelling, did you have any idea of what you'd like to do? Phil Bicker, New York
    I knew I wanted to travel, because my Dad worked in the travel business and I knew I wanted to leave Croydon. I hadn't even thought about what I wanted to do when I left school because I was only 14 when I started modelling.
  • Q. How much of your success would you attribute to your management? At what stage did you start to make your own decisions rather than following instructions? Elaine, New York
    Quite early. When I started working a lot, at one point I was doing about 10 flights in a week and I had to start saying no to things. Of course, your management pushes to get you work and you want them to think about the long-term, where I would be like 'I want to do The Face', even though it wouldn't earn me any money.
  • Q. What's been the happiest day of your life? Sadie Frost, London
    Well, you know, I gave birth, so that's definitely got to be up there!
  • Q. So Kate - I went through a long period of time where I thought it would never all work out. Wanting the dream to come true, then it changed and the dream became a reality. Have you ever experienced that? Please explain. Marianne Faithful, Paris
    Oh, God, Marianne! I didn't really have a dream where I thought 'Oh, I want to be a star'. It kind of all rolled along and then suddenly, I was in the papers and it was all a bit of a shock. Now I've got the dream because I've got the family and I'm still working. That was my dream always.
  • Q. At what point did you realise that your height wasn't going to stand in the way of your success? Charlotte Wheeler, SHOWstudio, London
    When I started doing shows, because of course, everyone else was taller. I thought, 'if I can do the runway with all these taller girls, then nothing can stand in my way.'
  • Q. What's your all-time favourite cover featuring yourself? Euan Angus, Galloway
    Probably now, it's The Face one or the June 1998 Vogue one with the sheepskin.
  • Q. My first show in Paris was also your first defile for me in Paris. If I remember, you were only 16 years old... How did you feel doing the show with the top supermodels Naomi, Linda and Christy? John Galliano, Paris
    I was so nervous that I couldn't eat all day. The runway was the longest one I've ever seen. I felt like it went on forever and I was up there on my own. Then afterwards, we went to watch the video at his office and someone had stolen all the champagne. There was only whiskey and I drank so much that I passed out at his dinner. I was supposed to be back at school on Monday morning and I was still in Paris on Wednesday!
  • Q. Why do you model? Is it a need for love and appraisal? Is it a natural desire to show off? Is it art or is it a drug? Nick Knight, Director, SHOWstudio, London
    I wasn't a show-off by nature, but I do think you get into that, even though I was shy. That becomes the drug.
  • Q. On a photo shoot do you feel like an artist or a mobile sculpture? What is the level of your involvement? Jonathan, Perth / Achim Reichert, Paris
    I felt like I have to become what the team want me to become. It grows: the make-up and the hair, and then the light... The atosphere of the shoot: you become that. Being versatile is what makes a good model.
  • Q. If clothing can be art, has there been one piece of apparel that you have worn which was a transcendent masterwork? Harold Koda, Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum, New York
    I have worn things by John Galliano (it was a gypsy skirt with purple tulle with bells all over it and a fox jacket that was unbelievably amazing) in an Annie Leibovitz shoot for American Vogue that were definitely transcendent masterworks.
  • Q. Do you ever look at any of your old campaigns and think: 'that doesn't look anything like me'? Joanna Leonard, Teddington
    Yes, all the time.
  • Q. Which photographer do you most like working with and why? Ka-Poon Chan, Hong Kong / Luke Rynderman, Sydney / Miche, France
    They are all different. You get something different out of working with different people, so I wouldn't want to work with one alone.
  • Q. Is there an image of you that you wish you'd never had taken? Penny Martin, Editor in Chief, SHOWstudio, London
    I'm sure there are, but I can't think of one right now.
  • Q. David Bailey said he falls in love with everyone he photographs. Can you describe the model/photographer dynamic? Do you ever feel uncomfortable being photographed? Gregoire Alexandre, Paris / Juani Sarrabayrouse, Buenos Aires
    When I work with a photographer, I try to become what they feel. It's not even like you're smiling, it's an instinct. If you can get where they are coming from, then that's the dynamic. I feel uncomfortable being photographed by paparazzi and there is only one instance where I've felt uncomfortable with one guy. He got put in prison because he was a perv.
  • Q. What qualities make a photographer brilliant? Geert de Keyser, Belgium
    Light and retouching. Ha!
  • Q. Am I still your number one as you're certainly still mine? Mario Testino, London
    Of course, Mario, you'll always be my number one.
  • Q. Why do you like shooting with Mario Testino? Solomon Light, Adelaide / Adam Levett, Toronto
    Because we just have the BEST time. We have so much fun!
  • Q. Do you let photographers know what you think of their images? Do you bluntly tell them if you don't like an image, or do you have more subtle ways to hint that you're not impressed? Daniel Brown, SHOWstudio, London
    I say 'I prefer that one'. I don't actually say if I don't like it.
  • Q. What's it like working with Nick Knight? Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong
    It's an experience. It's intense. Always. And you're really working, you can't get off lightly. You can't sail through the day.
  • Q. Would you mind working with a lesser-known photographer? Marc, Paris
    No, I wouldn't mind at all!
  • Q. Is Glen Luchford the best photographer you have ever worked with? Glen Luchford, London
    Sorry, Glen! Mario asked first!
  • Q. Are there any surprises left in fashion photography for you? Marc, Paris
    You can definitely always push it a bit more.
  • Q. Who is your favourite: Mert or Marcus? Mert and Marcus, London
    I can't say - they're just both divine! I couldn't pick. I love those boys, they're fantastic.
  • Q. What do you think it is about your appearance exactly that has brought you fame? Pablo Gimenez Papilla, Texas
    I've no idea. At all.
  • Q. Define beauty. Luke Hahn, Melbourne / Agnes, O.K., Hong Kong / G.RT de Keyser, Belgium
    I can only think of Lila. My daughter is the most beautiful thing to me.
  • Q. Are your nipples really like fighter pilots' thumbs? Juergen Teller, London
    My assistant, Fi Fi, says you could hang two wet duffel coats off them with two bottles of Irn-Bru in the pockets.
  • Q. When you look in the mirror, do you think you see what other people see? Peter Lindbergh, New York
    No, probably not.
  • Q. At what stage did it become evident after the publication of the Corinne Day story in the May 1993 issue of British Vogue that you were destined to become the leitmotif in every tabloid discussion of body size? How did you decide to deal with it? Penny Martin, Editor in Chief, SHOWstudio, London
    I just thought it was all bollocks, basically. It was upsetting sometimes, but I was really young and skinny and some girls just are. That was me, I wasn't trying to be anyone else.
  • Q. Why do you think the media chose to pin the debate about body image on you when there are so many other small female celebrities? Landon Bradley, Vancouver
    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'?
  • Q. Have you ever been on a diet? Harvey Allen, Stroud
    After having Lila, I couldn't have my french toast in my fry-up in the morning. I had to watch what I was eating, after having been eating for two!
  • Q. I visit schools on a regular basis, talking to students about their weight issues. If you were asked by a student, 'what would I have to do to look like a model?' what would be your honest answer? Deanne Jade, The National Centre for Eating Disorders, London
    You have to be yourself, as models come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There are girls who are out there who are more voluptuous and they work better for different sorts of stories.
  • Q. Last year I lost 55 pounds and started modelling, but have since gained 30 back. Things have fallen apart and I have lost the motivation to diet. I am desperate. How do you do it? J.J., Washington D.C
    I wouldn't advise anyone to be desperate to model. Certainly not by dieting so intensively.
  • Q. When is thin too thin? Dafne, Milan
    When you look ill. When you're not healthy.
  • Q. What's the meaning of the heart tattoo on your hand? Igor Mijalkovic, Yuguslavia / Ceri, London
    It's personal. It was when I was young and in love.
  • Q. Are you a feminist? Bryony, London
    I'm an independent woman, yes.
  • Q. You must have experienced just about everything in your career in fashion. How has your perception of the industry changed? Allan Martin, London / Alexandre de Bellefeuille, Montreal
    I don't think it has, really. I don't really do the shows: that's really when you see the industry in its full glory. I work with people more on a one-to-one basis, and therefore see it less as an industry.
  • Q. Did you ever feel that I was over-protective? Did I ever nag you? Naomi Campbell, Unknown
    You took me under your wing, but occasionally, yes! You did!
  • Q. Does your role in promoting companies that drive global capitalism worry you? Oscar Arzamendi, Mexico City
    I've got a lot to deal with, never mind taking on global capitalism.
  • Q. What's the most hurtful thing anyone in fashion has ever said to you? David Fahey, Greenwich Village
    There's been quite a lot! Fashion people can be very bitchy, especially when you're young. People said 'if you don't take your clothes off, I won't use you'. When you're young, you're put under a lot of pressure.
  • Q. Who are the 5 most powerful people in the fashion industry? Pao, Italy
    Anna Wintour, Mario Testino, Bernard Arnault, Tom Ford and in his day, Steven Miesel could make or break a girl.
  • Q. If you could only wear three designers for the rest of your life, which would they be? Nicolas Coleridge, Chairman of British Fashion Council / Emma, London
    John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney.
  • Q. What would you wear if we photographed you for the cover of GQ? Dylan Jones, Editor, GQ, London
    Probably nothing, knowing GQ!
  • Q. You are clearly a woman with a strong sense of style. Would you ever consider becoming a fashion editor? Tom Tesch, Vienna
    I have thought about it. Maybe later. I do love clothes.
  • Q. How would you advise someone interested in pursuing a career in the fashion industry? Daniel Mayer, Munich / Samantha, USA
    Try and get into work experience with a designer or a magazine.
  • Q. You've had so many lenses pointed at you that I hardly know what you're thinking anymore. What's it all about for you now? Do you know you're gorgeous? Craig McDean, New York
    For me now, it's about going to work and creating something new and having fun.
  • Q. Who are the five most attractive and sexy men and women that you've met? David Bailey, London
    Jefferson, Daniel Day Lewis, Frank Sinatra (he was REALLY attractive), Emanuelle, Roman Polanski's wife Marianne Faithfull.
  • Q. Does fame make it more difficult to find love? Rob W, Canada
    Yes, definitely.
  • Q. Which would you rather ride: a limo, a camel or a man? Edward Enninful, London
    A man, of course! What are you like?
  • Q. Corinne Day is on record as saying that after the controversy the 1993 Vogue shoot caused, you cut all ties with her. What was it like working with her again in 2000, after seven years had gone by? Michelle Duguid, SHOWstudio, London
    It was amazing. It was like a day hadn't passed. We had a great time.
  • Q. Are Jake and Dinos Chapman misanthropes? Landon Bradley, Vancouver
    No.
  • Q. Do you take it up the arse? Alexander McQueen, London
    Lee, you know! I'm not going to tell the whole world! We know you do...
  • Q. Is the Pope a Catholic? Katy England, London
    What about you, Katy?
  • Q. Does Marianne Faithful give you good advice? Jenny Vagan, Paris
    Yes, she does. We both give each other good advice, I think.
  • Q. Has he proposed? Ursula Young, Ullapool / Kirsty, London
    No, he hasn't.
  • Q. What do you find attractive about Jefferson? Simon Foxton, London
    He is the sweetest man I've ever met. Definitely.
  • Q. Who will design your wedding dress? Paul Bastick, Hanover
    I can't imagine myself in a wedding dress. I have worn them on runways. I did Brides magazine when I was 15! But I haven't thought about it.
  • Q. Who first called you 'Kitty'? Terry Jones, Editor in Chief & Creative Director, i-D, London
    Edwina. (Edward Enninful)
  • Q. Just about every restaurant in London claims that you lunch there. Do you really eat in a different place every day? Fiona Campbell, London
    No, I don't really. I work, I can't go to restaurants every day.
  • Q. What's your favourite work of art featuring you? Frieze Magazine, London
    The Lucien Freud painting!
  • Q. Where did you learn to pole dance like you did on the Corinne Day documentary? Penny Martin, Editor in Chief, SHOWstudio, London
    I had lessons at Astral, that strip club. It was amazing exercise, we did it for toning as it was more fun than going to the gym. It is so hardcore: pulling your body up onto a pole.
  • Q. What's your favourite porn film? Jose Duran, Barcelona
    I don't know any names!
  • Q. Who's your favourite writer? Julien, Liege
    F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • Q. What is your favourite colour of knickers? Mario Sorrenti, New York
    Pink. I know what kind of knickers you like!
  • Q. What's your favourite magazine? Ana de la Vega, Madrid
    AnOther Magazine.
  • Q. What's your favourite cheese? Meg Matthews, London
    Brie, as you know very well, Meg.
  • Q. Do you have a favourite website? Kobe, Toronto
    No, I don't.
  • Q. What are your views on George Bush? Rob W, Canada
    He's frightening. I can't even look at him.
  • Q. Have you been down to Argos lately? Which is your favourite branch? Kim Sion, Smile Management, London
    Last time I went to Argos, it was in Croydon, down Surrey Street Market.
  • Q. Do you own a bible? Have you any spiritual convictions? Jenny Vagan, Paris
    Yes, I do own a bible, but I couldn't recite any of it for you.
  • Q. What make-up product could you not live without? Val Garland, London
    Black eye-liner. Always.
  • Q. What did you crave during your pregnancy? Kate Currans, Philomath
    Japanese.
  • Q. I would imagine Kate would be such a great Mum... I can't wait to give Lila a cuddle! My question to Kate would be: 'how is day to day life with Lila?' Corinne Day, London
    She wears her bangles that you gave her every day. You've got to come over soon because she is so gorgeous.
  • Q. How did you shrink back to your original size after giving birth so quickly? Lois Wang, Taiwan
    I worked out in Thailand a bit and watched what I ate a bit, but I didn't make an intensive effort.
  • Q. Have you given up smoking? Ian Murray, Manchester
    No.
  • Q. Where did the name Lila Grace for your baby daughter come from? Rosie, London / Sofia Kazulkina, USA
    I had a book and it was called 'Lila Says' and I just loved the name. Grace I really loved.
  • Q. Who are Lila's godparents? Pat Bryne, Tallaght
    I haven't decided completely.
  • Q. Will motherhood mean you'll do less modelling? Guillaume, Toulouse / Joris Eeckhout, Cork
    I won't be flying around and doing the shows, but I will still be working.
  • Q. What is it like to have someone to care for other than yourself? Eugene Souleiman, London
    It's the best feeling in the world.
  • Q. Hi Kate, Congratulations on the birth of lovely Lila. What's your favourite motto for life right now? Verity McIlveen, Senior Editor, WGSN, London
    I don't really have one!
  • Q. Has the birth of your baby changed the way you look at other women? Jelle, Brussels
    Yes, when you're a mother, it definitely changes the way you feel about life in general.
  • Q. Would you be happy for your daughter to pursue a career in modelling? Nic Mulvaney, London / Anna Parker, Essex / Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong / Anna, Essex
    No, I wouldn't want her to be a model. I don't think it's the best industry really for young girls. Unless you're really strong, it can really fuck you up.
  • Q. Do you worry about younger models taking your place on the catwalk? Hilary Semple, Utah
    No. Good luck!
  • Q. What will you do after modelling? Ada, Bologna
    I don't know yet.
  • Q. After your collaborations with Bobby Gillespie and Primal Scream, do you have any ambitions to pursue a career in music? What other musicians would you like to work with? Dylan Pharazyn, Auckland / Kristin, Marian, London / Joris Eeckhout, Cork / Dan Whittaker, Hackney / Elaine Cristina, Norway / Gavin, London / Justin Montag, New York City
    No, I only worked with Bobby because I've known him for years and I couldn't turn down the experience of being with him and the band in the studio. I love them.
  • Q. Name three things you'd like to do that you haven't before. Phil Bicker, New York
    I'd like to jump out a plane, I'd like to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef, I'd like to sail around the islands in Tahiti with my family.
  • Q. What do you think you would you be doing now if you were not spotted in JFK airport by Sarah Doukas? Fran Cutler, London
    Who knows.
  • Q. How do you cope with being a housewife, a modern day icon and a mother? When you retire, will it be to Croydon? Guido, London
    I'm coping very well at the moment, thank you! I'm not retiring in the near future and when I do, it definitely will not be to Croydon!
  • Q. Which image would you like to be remembered for? Which would you most like to be forgotten? Liberty Ross, London
    I like the Nick Knight cover I mentioned. That was a good moment. I'd like the Vogue pictures that they harped on about anorexia over to be forgotten.
  • Q. The above list of people all chatted you up / asked you for a date in various, often unrepeatable ways. Would you like to accept any of them? Geth, Vancouver / Landon Bradley, London / Richard, Canada / Robert W, San Francisco / Michael Chichi, Sydney / Luke Rynderman, Italy / Pao, Derbyshire, Andrew Warwick, Bjorn Larsen, Brooklyn
    No. I'm happy with Jefferson right now!
  • Q. Thank you for being so candid Kate, It's been a pleasure interviewing you. Where are you off to now? Penny Martin, Editor in Chief, SHOWstudio, London
    Going for dinner!
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