Moss on the masthead: Kate, and her fame, moves behind the cameras and to British Vogue

Alexander Fury
kate moss 231x300 Moss on the masthead: Kate, and her fame, moves behind the cameras and to British Vogue

Kate Moss on the cover of June 2013 British Vogue, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier and styled by Lucinda Chambers

Kate Moss has been appointed a contributing fashion editor to British Vogue. She sits alongside Bay Garnett, Clare Richardson and Kate Phelan on the masthead. What’s the major difference between those names? Well, three are fashion editors, contributing to the title. And the other… is Kate Moss.

The idea of a model transitioning to fashion editor isn’t as revolutionary – nor heretical – as it may seem. The most famous example is current American Vogue Creative Director Grace Coddington, who modelled for Helmut Newton and Lord Snowdon amongst others before turning her hand to styling. Today she is lauded as one of – if not the – best in the industry.

Other fashion editors started as models too, such as Tabitha Simmons and Charlotte Stockdale. The latter dismissed her time in front of the camera, laughingly, as “a complete disaster,” when I interviewed her last year.

Many people don’t realise those women were once some-time, part-time models. Which is precisely the issue with Kate Moss’ move. You get the feeling Moss isn’t being tapped for her “undoubtedly brilliant sense of style, depth of fashion knowledge, and understanding of what makes a wonderful image,” to borrow British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman’s words.

Perhaps all of the above is true. But given that Moss has been styled, rather styled herself, when creating said wonderful images, you wonder how much that factored into this decision. My guess? Not much. The supermodel is being tapped for… well, just that. The celebrity that puts that super into supermodel. The name. The fame.

Moss on the masthead. It’s a headline that writes itself, a canny PR move. It’s got me writing about it, alongside a few dozen others.

Alexa Chung also sits on the masthead of British Vogue as a contributing editor. Chung recently confessed that her first book, It, published by Peguin in September, was written in emails to her editor, because she doesn’t have a word processing program on her computer. Chung’s name sits alongside veteran fashion writers including Christa D’Souza, former editor-at-large of Tatler magazine, and the Telegraph fashion editor Lisa Armstrong.

I’m not entirely sure of the point I’m making with this, besides a slight befuddlement at what celebrity seems to mean today. Apparently, it is the sole qualification required, allowing an individual to don whatever cap they wish, and to move seamlessly from career to career. There is something disturbing about it, especially because it seems to be working. Celebrity autobiography-cum-hagiography dominates bestseller charts, while their branded garments and perfumes slip seamlessly into stores.

In Moss’ case, it is perhaps a reaction to her innate sense of style, one that has marked her out for years. Kate Moss, generally, can dress herself extremely well. But that doesn’t mean it will – or can – translate from her body to others.

The other question is: should it? We have great models, we have great stylists, we have great journalists and editors. It’s difficult to do it all, even more so to do it all well.

The phrase that keeps ringing in my skull? “Jack of all trades.”

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