The supermodel gets seductive in the March issue of 'Harper's Bazaar.'
NEW YORK – In her new book, "Champagne Supernovas: Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and the 90's Renegades Who Remade Fashion," (Touchstone/Simon and Schuster) author Maureen Callahan explores three style icons who redefined beauty and design.
Model Moss, and designers McQueen and Jacobs all left home at an early age, with a yearning to make a mark on the world, and each created a multi-million dollar brand that continues to influence and endure.
Callahan—a New York Post writer and editor— fills the book with behind-the-seams drama and juicy anecdotes of partying and bad behavior, while celebrating the fashion darlings’ creativity and success. She talked to FOX411 about how the trends and innovation of the 90’s still informs fashion today.
FOX411: How did you decide to focus on Moss, Jacobs, and McQueen?
Maureen Callahan: It seemed very clear that these three individuals were the most important, influential and iconic, not just because of the fashion revolution they sparked, but that more than 20 years later they remain as relevant and influential as they did when they first burst on the scene.
FOX411:You suggest they were damaged and rose above bad circumstances. What do you hope people will take away from their stories?
Callahan: They came from troubled backgrounds but one of the things I admire about all three is that they were fighters. At various points they were considered pariahs by the fashion industry. Marc-- after he was let go from Perry Ellis in the wake of his “Grunge” collection, which at the time was considered a critical and commercial disaster but today is considered the most seminal, important American collection of the 90’s. Kate had near misses, once when she unraveled and had to check herself into Priory (a British rehabilitation facility)… and not too long ago, when she was snapped doing cocaine and on the cover of every British tabloid, and dropped by many, many advertisers in the wake of that scandal. But they’re all fighters and survivors.
FOX411: Several people you write about suffered from mental illness. Do you think that was the largest contributor to McQueen’s 2010 suicide or did his sex and drug addiction play a role?
Callahan: It’s hard to say. At his inquest, his psychiatrist said he was treating him for depression and anxiety disorder. Many of McQueen’s friends suspected he was bipolar. Then you have the escalating drug use. The causes for that can range from anything from self-medicating an undiagnosed condition, to attempting to relieve stress. He had to debut new (design) collections every 4 weeks. He was in a world where if he needed drugs, they were very accessible to him. But he also felt very isolated towards the end of his life and his mother had just died. It seemed to be a conflagration of events. He had tried to kill himself twice before so he was clearly suicidal.
FOX411: There’s a lot of serious partying—cocaine binges and orgies-- described in the book. Is that typical in the fashion world?
Callahan: I don’t think people will be surprised to read that Kate Moss is a wild person. That’s what makes her one of a kind. She really is a true rock and roll supermodel (laughs) and makes no apologies for it. And in a culture that’s increasingly confessional, that’s refreshing.
FOX411: You have detailed stories of the partying. How do you know it’s all true?
Callahan: I had people not credited in the book who had firsthand knowledge because they were there. There’s stuff about Kate’s 30th birthday that came to me from someone who was in the room. Some was reported in the British press too.
FOX411: Were all three functioning drug addicts or do you think they lost control?
Callahan: They clearly lost control. Kate had to check into rehab after she broke up with Johnny Depp. Marc was forced to check into rehab after he was getting forced off airplanes and was also out of control. But people didn’t have cameras in their cell phones then so some of this stuff could be kept quiet. They definitely lost control, but then they would right the ship.
FOX411: You say Kate was devastated by the Johnny Depp break up. Did she ever get over him?
Callahan: I spoke to people who know her, in her circle, and they think Johnny was her great love and she never really has quite gotten over him. But they say she’s really happy with Jamie (Moss’ husband, rocker Jamie Hince) and in love with him.
FOX411: You argue that Kate’s influence as a model is unprecedented.
Callahan: Kate Moss drives trends. Girls will look at a picture of her and try to get her whole look, and try to decode it. She’s also responsible for creating demand for pieces that were never put into production or put out of production. That happened with the Balenciaga Lariat (hand)bag. She got shot wearing the prototype and then girls wanted that bag, and that bag became the ‘it’ bag of the decade. High-end designers like Tom Ford have taken her street look and turned it into something on the runway…but then you have fast fashion chains like Zara, like H&M, that rip out tabloid photos of her, put them on their walls and use those to make entire collections.
FOX411: But Kate’s first ad campaign – topless, thin, no make up-- was not embraced by all….
Callahan: Those images of Kate Moss for Calvin Klein were so controversial and incendiary and they were all over, in magazines and on sides of buses….and they were constantly defaced by girls who thought the images were promoting eating disorders and heroin use. They would be scrawled with words like ‘feed me!’ It’s hard to imagine given what a standard bearer she is now.
FOX411: How will these three be remembered?
Callahan: What these people did was really challenge our conventional notions of what is and should be considered beautiful. At the outset of the decade and midpoint of the decade, the establishment thought they were crazy, and by the end of the decade, they were the establishment, that’s their lasting legacy. They continued pushing the boundaries of fashion, style, beauty, what cool is. It was the defining cultural youth movement of the 90’s: the Gen-X fashion revolution.