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Is it safe to co-brand with Kate Moss yet?


December 1, 2007/5.01

If Kate Moss has cleaned up her act since being exposed for doing lines of cocaine by a British tabloid in 2005, then it is right for those who have a demand for her to ask her to be their spokeswoman. Donna Karan is the latest to hire the British supermodel, who is reportedly stronger now than she was since just before her personal scandal, after which she lost contracts left, right and centre.
   Karan says that it’s the first time she has used Moss in a campaign, for a collection that is inspired by Havana nights.
   However, is Kate Moss actually clean? There has remained a lot of news from various tabloids that the model has continued her old habits, but then, who are we to trust the tabloids?
   After a week where even respectable titles misreported an incident (citing the wrong year, place and source—not to mention adding facts), then unless I see the darn thing on two videos with two different vantage points as well as sworn affidavits, it’s going to be a lot harder to get me to believe gossip.
   And for years I have witnessed events at fashion shows that are at complete odds with what the mainstream media, including so-called quality broadsheets, have reported.
   My main qualm with the Moss-as-spokeswoman idea is that I am simply not a huge fan of hers. Maybe I have been coloured by her undesirable traits, but I no longer see an image that I would want my brand to be associated with (not that we could justify paying her fee).
   We have at the office some Kate Moss perfume, with the Kate Moss brand—the one that launched with the Topshop deal some months ago (which I wrote about for Desktop magazine in Australia). I can still see how this is marketable and bankable, since there are still sufficient people (the majority) who think Moss is beautiful. On a recent blog with eight comments, I noticed only two were negative toward her. Five were gushing—even if I saw someone seemingly worn by a drug habit.
   Yes, she’s been blessed with good bone structure and genes that mean that she’ll always look better than a lot of us, but negative actions surely stick to public figures more readily than to the rest of us? Isn’t there always some journalist or editor willing to bring up past indiscretions, even as a closing paragraph?
   An episode of Border Security in Australia showed Customs’ officials stop a model because they detected cocaine—and in their interviews with the reality TV crew, the audience was told that there was a belief that models and the fashion industry were known for illicit drugs.
   Any respectable modelling agency will tell you—as will any magazine with any principles—that this image is not deserved on our patch. But we acknowledge that it does happen. Sadly, as with so many things out there, the decent publications and agencies who will go and look after models with a loco parentis attitude aren’t 100 per cent representative of the entire industry.
   Personally speaking, I see a lot of tobacco—but in 10 years I have never seen any model do coke. Maybe no one does this stuff in front of me, or maybe I am only invited to the more respectable dos.
   In any case, we can’t send a strong message if we are being told that images of drug-worn models is desirable. Or that the industry turns a blind eye to coke.
   The above photograph has been airbrushed, of course, and it’s a heck of a glamorous outfit, but when you look closely at Moss she doesn’t seem as “there” as she was 10 years ago. I also think she might look better with an extra 15 lb.
   I am not mounting a campaign using Kate Moss as a scapegoat—but I am not sure if she represents where I want this industry to head.
   This is nothing to do with age—you don’t see me complaining about Andie MacDowell, Meryl Streep or Lauren Bacall, nor do you see me complain about the Real Beauty campaigns that Dove runs—but I believe there are looks that we as an industry want to propagate that are healthy and radiant.
   It may be time for another Cindy Crawford or Claudia Schiffer. With a master’s degree.

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