Kate Moss Emerges From Cocaine Flap Intact
LONDON – Three months ago, a cocaine scandal threatened to end Kate Moss' career. Now, her scandalous image is helping to fuel a remarkable comeback.
In September, a storm erupted around the 31-year-old supermodel after she was pictured in a tabloid newspaper snorting cocaine. Burberry and other top fashion brands dropped her and there was much speculation that her red-hot career might have been irretrievably cooled.
Forget about that.
Recently, Moss has picked up a string of new contracts and held onto her old ones — including, perhaps fittingly, Yves Saint Laurent's Opium perfume.
The ultimate accolade comes Thursday when French Vogue — perhaps the fashion industry's most influential publication — hits the stands with a December issue devoted to Moss. The tag line on the cover: "Scandalous Beauty."
The fashion world was accused of hypocrisy when it turned its back on Moss after the bad girl image it had carefully nurtured was so publicly shown to be true. However, one season later, the arbiters of taste appear to be betting that the reality is eminently bankable.
"If you use Kate Moss as a symbol of freedom, of transgression, you have to be honest. You can't use her image to convey those kinds of messages and then be surprised that she breaks the rules in her private life," Francois-Henri Pinault, whose retail empire PPR includes Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, told Vogue.
Jeremy Baker, a fashion-industry expert at London Metropolitan University, said the public may be even more ready now to embrace Moss because of the drug scandal.
"You get more involved in someone who has survived a scandal," he said.
The Vogue issue is Moss' third major magazine cover since the cocaine scandal broke. She appeared on the November issue of W and the December edition of Vanity Fair, which asked in a headline, "Can she come back?"
The question, it appears, has clearly been answered.
After the publication of the pictures of Moss allegedly snorting cocaine with boyfriend Pete Doherty, the troubled singer of British rock band Babyshambles, and the loss of the contracts that followed, Moss responded with public repentance. She apologized to "all the people I have let down," adding that "there are various personal issues that I need to address," and underwent a stint at the Meadows rehabilitation center in Arizona.
"To overcome a crisis like this, you have to suffer," said Baker, a senior lecturer in communications at the London university. "It would really have helped if she could have gone to prison for a short time.
"But she's suffered loss and humiliation. The recovery is when we all come on board and say, 'Go, girl!'"
Since leaving rehab, Moss has shot an advertising campaign for Italian designer Roberto Cavalli. She is also the face of perfume Coco Mademoiselle and Rimmel cosmetics.
She appears on the cover of the 2006 Pirelli calendar and has reportedly signed new deals with cell-phone brand Virgin Mobile and French luxury label Longchamp.
Burberry, which canceled a campaign featuring Moss after the scandal, recently said talk of her being dumped was "nonsense."
The French Vogue cover features four striking black-and-white images inspired by Jean Cocteau's atmospheric 1946 film "Beauty and the Beast." The content, partly crafted by Moss, includes a series of portraits by Mario Testino and an article tracing the model's career.
The magazine had asked Moss to be guest editor of its December issue before the summer and did not waver when she entered rehab.
"We like Kate because there's an idea of danger about her," French Vogue's artistic director Fabien Baron was quoted as saying by The Daily, a Web site that covers the fashion industry. "We weren't going to throw the rocks at her because she got into some trouble."
Scandal has long been part of the Moss image. Discovered by Sarah Doukas, founder of the Storm model agency, at New York's John F. Kennedy airport when she was 14, Moss rose to fame in the 1990s, when her gaunt look prompted criticism that the fashion industry was glorifying "heroin chic."
Dogged by stories of wild partying and drug use, she nonetheless became one of the industry's most bankable stars.
Some observers thought that ride had crashed, but it is now obvious that Moss' bad-girl image is the backbone of her appeal.