Monday, August 4, 2014

The Commencement of Kate: From Corinne Day to Calvin Klein

Before Kate Moss turned 16, her toothy grin and crinkled nose were on the cover of The Face. Kate and Corinne met on a casting in 1990, and shortly after they were creating soon-to-be-historic images in Camber Sands. It was self-taught Corinne Day, once quoted as saying, "I just do what I love, and I don't really care what anyone else thinks," who discovered Kate and launched her career.

Three years later, Day photographed Kate for her first Vogue UK cover, the March 1993 issue, followed by June's Vogue UK story, entitled "Under-exposure." The mood was light, airy, soft, sheer, and quietly feminine, Kate's bare porcelain face set off by lacy underthings, ice cream-shop pastel streetwear, and deliberately un-styled hair.

The below image is undeniably the most iconic, with Kate in a Liza Bruce tank top and Hennes (a brand now known as H&M) underwear. Corinne later noted she shot it when Kate had been crying after a fight with her then-boyfriend. Controversy ensued: hello, "heroin-chic" and accusations of an unhealthily thin body.

"She used to deliberately walk away from the camera, and wait for the model to start fidgeting and get bored. Really, she'd be keeping one eye on them all the time, waiting for them to put their fingers out in a funny way or pull a face, and then she'd click. It was about capturing people being themselves, and Corinne saw that as beautiful." -Neil Moodie, hairstylist and Corinne's longtime friend

A year before the Vogue cover, Kate landed her big Calvin Klein contract. "The big girls were there — Cindy, Nadja. And then Kate Moss walked in. She put on this beige chiffon slip dress, and it just fell on her body. I got goose bumps. We all knew we were witnessing one of those fashion moments." -Nian Fish, publicist for KCD

"Despite the storm that erupted over Kate Moss' thin and 'unshapely' physique, which some critics called borderline anorexic  complex issue, wrong target — she found a champion in Klein." -Vanity Fair, "Calvin to the Core," April 2008

""With advertising, people respond very quickly, and you can measure it very easily. We just saw the sales take off. They were sick of fake boobs." -Calvin Klein

That wasn't the end of Calvin's tryst with controversy. Obviously the brand was so pleased with the history made with young Kate, they were determined to keep it going. In 1995 , he attempted to recreate it with Steven Meisel's grungy, basement rec room-set ads (apparently inspired by a shoot Meisel had recently done for L'Uomo Vogue). 
They weren't just maligned as "kiddie porn" by many. The Clinton White House administration spoke up, with Bill calling them "outrageous" and Hillary saying they "pushed the envelope of gratuitous sex and exploitation of children," and the photos were investigated by the FBI under suspicion. The Justice Department eventually concluded "no laws had been broken." 

But nearly two decades later, with Moss' career (and persona) still thriving, these are little more than moments in time, representative of a somewhat more innocent era now passed. 

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