Once Upon a Time, Kate Moss Thought She Couldn’t Take a Good Picture

Welcome to Thirstory, where we whet your appetite with pages from the Interview archive that were almost too hot to print. This week, we commemorate the queen of fashion, Kate Moss, on the eve of her 47th birthday by revisiting her March 1999 cover portfolio. 


Let’s face it: mothers don’t always know best. For the British supermodel Kate Moss, listening to mom would’ve halted her career before it even took it off. In the conversation that accompanied her March 1999 cover story, Moss, then 25, recalled that before her career took off, neither she nor her mom had much confidence in her modeling potential. As she told former Interview editor Ingrid Sischy, “I don’t know why. But I said to my mum, ‘I don’t think I’m very photogenic,’ and she agreed, ‘I know. I don’t think you are either.’” It would be an empty fashion world without Kate Moss, had she never mustered the courage to pursue a career in front of the camera. Luckily, due to a happy accident, we never got to see it. 

Photo by Roxanne Lowit.

At 14, Moss, along with her dad and brother, were stranded overnight at John F. Kennedy Airport after a 2-week Bahamian holiday. Itching to get home, her father was able to finagle their way onto a last-minute flight back to England:

“I was praying, ‘Please let us get on that plane.’ We did. There was one seat in economy, one in business, and one in first class. I was in the economy, my brother was in business, and my dad was in first class. Halfway through the flight—the meal had come and I was listening to my Walkman—a man came over to where I was sitting and said, ‘Excuse me.’ I was like, ‘What? What do you want?’ He said, ‘My sister owned a modeling agency and she’d like to speak to you.’” 

Photo by Nick Knight.

A week later, Moss met with the strange man’s sister and was signed. A week after that, Moss booked her very first gig: a shoot for a beauty scrub that paid just 100 pounds (equivalent to $323 USD in today’s currency). From that job forward, her fast track to fame was expeditious. “It looks like my career happened overnight, but it didn’t. I was basically living on my own from when I was seventeen on,” Moss recalled in the interview. In 1993, the Mario Sorrenti-photographed “Obsession by Calvin Klein” fragrance campaign is what solidified her superstardom. Three decades later, the cover girl, who turns 47 tomorrow, has one of the most multifaceted and lucrative bodies of work of any model today. “People think your success is just a matter of having a pretty face,” Moss told Sischy. “But it’s easy to be chewed up and spat out. You’ve got to stay ahead of the game, actually, to be able to stay in it.” Big words for someone, who just 10 years prior, thought they couldn’t take a decent picture. 

Photo by Arthur Elgort.

Photo by Corinne Day.

Photo by Juergen Teller.

Photo by Steven Klein.