You guys might have been wondering where I've been as my last blog post was posted around 1 month ago ! Wow, time really flies doesn't it ?
Well end of last month I left for Penang/Singapore and I spent 2 full weeks modeling. I did 5 photoshoots (1 in Penang and the rest in Singapore).
I had a 1-day shoot in Penang, flew to Singapore the next day, went for a shoot in the Singapore Zoo the following day, had a scorching bikini beach shoot, a duo model box theme shoot where I shared the limelight with Siying, and a grand final shoot with 3 gorgeous Mercedes-Benz sportscars to round up the fruitful 2 weeks.
Well frankly, I was totally reluctant to leave Singapore at the end of the 14 days because I love the people there plus the things I get to do. I dreaded returning home but here I am back at home.
Once I was home, I spent around 2 days editing photos and reading (not to mention I've got at least 5 half completed blog posts that are pending for my attention), and I got hooked onto a documentary ! Here's when the main content of this blog post comes in - I stumbled onto this "Kate Moss, Creating An Icon" documentary and found it totally enlightening.
All I can say is I totally love this educational video, it sheds light on so many aspects, and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process of learning the details on how a worldwide fashion icon is formed and the many factors contributing to it.
So I'm really grateful for the creator/producer of this documentary
(If ever one day you are reading this, I have subscribed to your channel on Youtube and am hungrily waiting for more documentaries !!),
because I am definitely going to learn to apply concepts I learnt from the video and hopefully onto my own career as well.
I went through the entire 52:32 minute video at least 4 to 5 times and wrote the transcript for the video - which is available in this blog post right under the video.
If anyone's wondering why I wrote the transcript (because it definitely took quite some time because it is so LONG), it is because for visual learners out there and for me, it is easier for us to digest the concepts by reading it as compared to listening to it. It helps to make a deeper impression and allows me to soak in the knowledge so much better.
For those of you who share this passion of learning with me, I hope this blog post benefits you as much as it helps me. All the best and see you again !
Take care and Love ya,
Sapphire Ng <3 <3 <3
[Overview - Short Snippets From Interviewees]
You could say a model is a model is a model, but in fact a model isn't a model a model a model.
There is something special why you like her whatever she does.
She has no breasts, she has bandy legs, she has crooked teeth.
She is simply a sexy woman or a sexy girl.
She does her own thing, she doesn't care and she's almost self-destructive.
Sex drive is rock and roll, and she's very much kind of embodied that lifestyle and somehow survived.
She got mousy hair and this little kind of round face.
It is the face that sells anything.
I think we all have made up our mind about her.
It all begins in New York in 1988. Just 14 years old, Kate Moss is discovered by an English modeling agency. It is the launch of an incredible career. From little girl to supermodel, from a brat out of the London suburbs to an icon for an entire generation. Even 20 years later, the status of this English woman is undiminished. Photographers, designers and artists from all over the world want to work with her.
Kate Moss, who made her into an icon ? And why her of all people ? The search for answers begins in New York.
[Albert Watson, New York Photographer]
The masses are very often longing for an icon like Kate, they are waiting for Kate Moss. On that trip that we did to Morocco, she actually had her 18th birthday and she was completely comfortable with her body and, there was just something about the innocence of her - she was so open and in her own way, calm. She was almost in a meditative state.
Photographers are in some ways image makers, but I don't think many people have been - Many photographers and filmmakers have really been image makers unless the talent is really there.
Kate's early career is sluggish, she looks completely different from all the other successful models of the period. She's too small, too androgynous and in the classical sense, not sexy enough.
In 1990, she gets booked by John Galliano. This show changes everything. A year later, she signs a contract with Calvin Klein for the Obsession perfume campaign. He shows her as a gaunt, pale, naked girl - this is her international breakthrough.
The Model As Muse, 2009, The Metropolitan Museum in New York devotes an exhibition to the theme "What role do models play for fashion for the aesthetic of a certain period ?"
[Kohle Yohannan, Curator of The Model As Muse]
Think in the 90s, there was a focus in deconstructing fashion and there was a breakthrough, a change in beauty. The conservative, more classical beauty that has been celebrated in the past gave way to a more varied and alternative form of beauty.
So I think that models became muses to an entire generation in the sense. An excellent example of that would certainly be in the grunge collections in 1992 where you start to see street chic taking over in much the same way that it happened in the 60s. To a large extent, Kate Moss did for the 90s what Twiggy had done for the 60s - which was to galvanize beauty and she was the face of the revolution.
The grunge style replaces the mania for luxury of the 1980s. Careless into disciplinary. The casual street look is combined with the down to earth music of indie rock bands like Nirvana, Oasis and Blur. Alternately, pop culture is dominated by the cool label and Kate embodies the sensibility like no one else.
Pivotal to the style as well is the images of this photographer Corinne Day. She creates intimate photographs different from anything known before. Her photo series The Third Summer Of Love makes history.
[Colin Mc Dowell, Fashion Journalist of The Sunday Times]
Kate Moss to me is a very great shock because she came in just at the end of the supermodels who were very supermodels - people like Naomi and all the other ones like Linda Evangelista, who look absolutely fabulous. 6 foot 10 they seem to me as they came down the runway particularly for Versace, and then there was this little woman.
Versace forsees the potential of the young Kate Moss and is one of the first to promote her talent. He hires her again and again, setting her at the center of the shows. Right up until present, Kate Moss works with the sister, the designer Donatella Versace.
[Angela Buttolph, Author of Kate Moss Style]
She was just the breath of fresh air after the supermodels. And there were amazing photos of her in the early 90s when she was really kind of bursting onto the scene. And she looks like she is the daughter of these women.
Politically in England at that time, there was you know quite a lot of unemployment and kids was just kind of like feeling a bit - they just want to stay up all night and raving and Kate was like a huge part of that kind of culture as well, it's like naughty kids, hanging around sleeping on street corners and that kind of supermodel era so didn't seem to do very much with their real lives.
[Colin Mc Dowell]
The heroine chic thing was part of that. Yeah we're grunchy, we're selling fashion but we're not selling fashion of course. Like Calvin Klein, they were selling things to do with an attitude of mind which was an antisocial attitude of mind and there were all those pictures which made her look waif-like but hard, skinny hard little creature.
[Angela Buttolph, Author of Kate Moss Style]
That aesthetic that particularly Corinne Day was putting was quite shocking and rebellious because its real and it was quite a defiant thing that all these creators were doing to stand up and say, "Well, nobody lives like that. You know, we don't live like that, we live like this - we think it's cool".
When these photos were published in 1993 in British Vogue, the press raises an outcry. There are charges of perverse child pornography and bulimia, and the concept of heroine chic is born.
Kate Moss' body and face become emblematic of the new generation. This is the generation of raves, drugs and clubbing. Young, wild fashion photography proliferates. And the imagery which emerges from the scene changes the look of the slick fashion industry, like the photos of the German photographers Jurgen Teller and Wolfgang Tillmans.
Paris, capital of fashion and appearances, for Kate Moss as well. Just 20 years old, she is booked with all the big designers, earns more than 1500 British Pounds per day, spends her time between champagne receptions and high-end clubs and is repeatedly seen on the cover of Vogue.
From the beginning, she works with the most important photographers, all of which promotes her rise to iconic status.
[Peter Lindbergh, Paris Photographer]
She is just amazingly natural, uncannily comic. Always funny, always in a good mood, she has something you can't describe, something inimitable, something no one else has. And all the others, the other girls, they're really great too. But Kate has something extra. She just has something... you can just say, Kate is cool. It's kind of a dopey word, but she is really cool.
Kate Moss has arrived in the world of the supermodels. She's become an icon, and a role model to the new self-confident generation of women. But how do these processes work ? Who is responsible ? The model, or the industry ? The person, or the staging of the beauty ?
The emergence of an icon is something very, very complex. The icons themselves contribute almost nothing to this. As a non-icon on the path to becoming an icon, you somehow reach a stage where people make you into an icon. And then you become an icon too. Once it gets started, you can't stop it anymore.
I've seen it happen with me, with my own career. I still don't know how people started talking about me and I always turned around and said, you can't talk about me. I never had, I still don't have, a feeling of being this great guy all these people are talking about. And I can imagine that with Kate, it's exactly the same. You're elevated into, made into an icon and once things get going, there's no turning back.
Kate Moss has become a part of the global image archive. Earlier, Madonna is revered as sacred and a complex religious iconography is created, but today - an icon is an expression of contemporary aesthetic, an aesthetic which influences all areas of culture, production, fashion, music & art.
[Christian Boros, Media Manager]
I've had this picture now for many, many years. It's not in the archive, instead I live with it and I can never get enough of it. It still retains its fascination. When I get up in the morning, this picture greets me. People are simply interested most of all in other people. I don't just look at some chair, I don't just look at anything. I wake up in the morning and look into her eyes.
An "icon" is, it has something to do with iconography, with imaging. And with all images that all are not just ephemeral that are really lasting and relevant and remain in our visual memory, it's a question of interesting images, complex images.
A good image is never monocausal, say of a beautiful woman - that would be just advertising, publicity.
A complex image must be polycausal. There are many reasons why we are interested in an image. It's dense, it's a conglomeration of different attractions. And with her, it is beauty and transitoriness. Sexuality, but also connected to ugliness, with traces of the night. It's at the same time normality and the unattainability of an existence as a star.
Here you have Kate Moss, who looks back at you more aggressively, more radically. She is provocative, we have a certain eye contact. And this provocative and aggressive quality contrasts with the contemplative, the harmonious, the introverted, the sedate. Of course these are extremely different from one another. There is also provocation here, a hidden sexuality. And it's a latent sexuality. And I think with Kate Moss, it's a really aggressive sexuality. Both are beautiful.
[Daniele Buetti, Artist]
The holy figures had something different to offer, they were exemplary, because they led perfect lives, because they effected miracles, because they were ethically and morally infallible. Interestingly, our exemplars or ideals, they consist of pure surface. Their perfection is found only in the external layer.
Daniele Buetti has long been preoccupied with the iconic graphic images of the fashion industry. With the images of women that are angelic, slick, retouched, impeccable on the surface. It is precisely the surface which Buetti has violated and destroyed. He inscribes magazine pictures from behind with a ballpoint pen and then re-photographs them.
[Daniele Buetti, Artist]
I found that interesting. What happens when I start to add something with a ballpoint pen to this perfection to this slick face, to this smooth body, this perfect body. When do things begin to tip over ? Can I heighten this beauty even further ? Or do I instead destroy it right from the beginning ? I have attempted to work out this entire palette of possibilities.
As a template, Buetti also uses Calvin Klein celebrated Obsession campaign of 1993 - the campaign through which Kate Moss triggered the dehydration of the fashion world.
[Colin Mc Dowell, Fashion Expert]
There is a great deal of hysteria in the fashion world as everyone knows. One photographer gets over-excited about a model, and then the editors get over excited, then more photographers get over-excited, and more editors get over-excited and suddenly you have a personality.
[Angela Buttolph, Fashion Journalist for Grazia]
The fact that from the very beginning she was working with like the very best photographers, the very best stylists, the very best art directors, makeup artists and hair people. I think if you sort of start at the top and you're always interested in fashion as Kate is, it's inevitable that you're going to end up being a big star.
[Kohle Yohannan, Curator of The Model As Muse]
At that time or now, Kate always had her own independent look and there's no denying that she is fashion news in and of herself. She has the style, she has the whimsical way of mixing haute couture with high street, high fashion, low fashion. And I think that that edginess is innate, so I don't see Kate as being used by anything, other than her own good judgment.
She is this really creative person when it comes to her clothes and quite rebellious as well. She really hates following trends and you see this all the time, she's constantly coming up with new ways of combining clothes and she's always into the new jeans style before anyone else is even considering it. So I think she is very appealing because she is someone who is always wearing something new so she is inspiring and you think "Ah I haven't thought of doing that before, I thought I'd give it a go." But she also does things in quite an accessible way.
Kate Moss' unique style - a combination of expensive design labels and second hand - is imitated countless times. Increasingly, it is not actually fashion which Kate Moss represents as a model. Identifying with her now is an entire generation resisting the pre-established choices.
She is fascinating to the fashion people because she was almost like raised by the fashion industry. She's almost like some kind of an experiment, like if you took a small girl and handed her over to the fashion industry, who would she become and she would become Kate Moss.
The mid 90s marks the high point of Kate Moss' career. All important designers book the slightly above 5 foot 7 model, from avant-garde to the classics. She stands for luxury and for punk, for elegance and for rock, she stands for everything.
As a model, Kate Moss has a reputation for being indifferent to public image. She smokes, drinks, parties and becomes a single mother. Some fashion houses have separated themselves from her after drugs scandals, but in the long run, her image does nothing to diminish her success.
On the contrary, as with the coolest factor, her recklessness and indifference helped her to achieve iconic status. Her unadjusted self is particularly liked by Vivienne Westwood and her husband Andreas Kronthaler.
[Andreas Kronthaler, Designer for Westwood]
She is just sexy. You can't forget that, that's the basis for so much. She's just a sexy woman or a sexy girl. And it's just an underlying thing, like you just feel it in everything she makes or does. There's always an edge, a real sense of class. Not every woman has that.
[Vivienne Westwood, Designer]
I like Kate, I think she's great, I think she did a lot. What I like about her and I think this is what has been passed on is that she doesn't care, she doesn't care about being naked. She was one of the first people when she was a little girl doing that advert for Calvin Klein, on her tummy of course, but you know I mean if she's backstage she wouldn't even think if she'd take her clothes off. She doesn't care. Somehow this sort of attitude is a sort of punk attitude.
Kate Moss in 1900 would have been a prostitute. She would have had a salon if she was lucky and her reputation would have been just as big. Today, it's models and that's alright.
There was a show, it was called Liberty, she had an evening outfit. And it was a corset and a Cul de Paris, just a huge length of tulle, silk tulle, wrapped around her and a big bow. It was sort of delicate and somehow the corset wasn't right, it wasn't big enough. But she just marched out, topless, so to speak. And she just kept it together.
I can still remember, when I saw the video, and I thought "Oops". And of course, people liked it and the photographers too but it wasn't actually planned like that. It just happened out of sloppiness, it happened to her somehow and she liked it and so out she came just like that.
Kate Moss is different from the others, which is why she is booked for experiments and extraordinary campaigns. The label Agent Provocateur founded by Westwood's son Joseph Corre is known for embracing risks. The enterprise hires filmmaker Mike Figgis in 2007 for a campaign which makes history.
[Mike Figgis, Film Director]
Surely if you wear a coat, you wear a coat, either it's a nice coat or it's not a nice coat, pair with sneakers, bra or whatever it is. Kate Moss manages to make them interesting and her talent is I don't know how quite she does that.
Figgis converts the model Kate Moss into a 3-dimensional figure who sleep-walks through her dreams and reverie. Kate Moss is presented not as a model but as a human being. She, and not the undergarments she is wearing, stands at the centre of the campaign.
People want their icons to have the appearance of being human, as in they are not perfect. If you can survive your demons and your shortcomings in the public forum, which is really really difficult as people don't really want to do that in public. But if your washing has been kind of displayed in public and then you come out of it okay, then I think your status goes up again. And because people don't want you to be like them, but they want you in some way to resemble their problems. You need to exhibit the mannerisms of a human being and at the same time be special.
She is not a tragic person and maybe that's something we haven't talked about. Unlike a lot of icons like James Morrison you know that kind of cliches, she is like very much represents a living person with a lot of personality, a lot of energy and a kind of positive approach even when things are kind of a little bit rock and roll.
This one here, looks she is lying down, in fact she is standing up, this is the wall and her feet very firmly on the ground.
I'm sure that there are statistics which prove that there hasn't been a single day that has passed for the last 10 years where she has not have a picture in the paper somewhere or a story. I guess that just feeds in the public imagination all the time.
[Peter Lindbergh, Photographer]
Her scandals are actually very very positive. Kate doesn't let herself be used, doesn't let herself be forced into a role as a paragon unlike many other models I have worked with, who, when they smoke, hide themselves so no one can take a picture of them because they want to be exemplary. Kate is nothing like that. She is above all of that and that's one of the really important reasons why Kate is Kate.
All the way Kate just never talked to anyone. So again, something like that just makes you that incredible, unique person in the public eye and again makes you a bit of an enigma. I mean almost more than other parts of her career, I think that was the master stroke - to have the foresight to never to talk to anyone because there is nobody who is not talking for PR purposes. So to be the one person who just wouldn't talk to anybody, but then also be everywhere officially, is kind of ingenious.
[Colin Mc Dowell]
I remember talking to the editor of British Vogue some years ago and I said "You have Kate Moss on the cover of Vogue for the last 3 months. Why's that ?" and she said, she just said "I'm putting her on the cover, we print 5000 more copies."
[Albert Watson, Photographer]
Recognizing ability is a major component of image making so therefore if you see a picture with Elvis or Marilyn Monroe, of course it's instant - you recognize them immediately.
She's become such an iconic commodity that I feel that people, all they're doing is licensing the franchise of her and they hand the picture of her to their retouchers and then they kind of recreate the image they want around a sort of an image they have taken of her. By the time it comes out, it's a magazine and it often no longer resembles Kate Moss fully enough. But it's important it looks enough like Kate so that people register "Oh it's Kate Moss" because she's now as important as the product - that's really iconic status.
[Colin Mc Dowell]
Men look at her and think "Oh gosh, would she be my girlfriend ?" Women look at her and think "If I had that face, those eyes, I'd have a fabulous boyfriend John, Johnny Depp or whoever it happens to be."
So they play a very important role because they give us aspirations and they also in the sense comfort us because we think "Yeah well, ordinary person (yeah because she was very well, ordinary socially and I think intellectually as well) but there's still hope for someone like me, sitting on the underground, waiting for the bus in the rain, I'm opening my magazine when I get on the bus and I see Kate Moss and I think 'You know, there's life.' "
Kate has a bland face and that's part of her success, it's pretty, the features are all the way it should be, but it can be painted on. Maybe that's why painters and photographers like her because they can make her into whatever they wish her to be.
In art, iconic graphic images are reinterpreted again and again. Over the course of the years, Kate Moss has been converted from a photograph to an image, to motif and art. She's become a prototype, a muse, triggering associations from many international artists.
[Chuck Close, New York Painter]
The thing I appreciated most about working with Kate and what happened when she walked through the door and took her clothes off was that she was no longer the waif. She was no longer that kind of heroine-induced, anorexic figure with arms and legs like toothpicks. She'd a child and her body had thicken and gravity had already begun to set in to her quite beautiful breasts and all that. And she said "Oh god, I guess I should have pruned my pubic hair before I came". So it was a far more human, far more comfortable and I think, more likeable person than I thought is going to walk through the door.
So I was really interested to see how comfortable she was with it because I apologized for the first daguerreotype and I said "This is really rough" and she said "Don't worry, I had a million beautiful pictures taken of me and it's great, don't worry about it."
Chuck Close uses the daguerreotype process invented during the 19th century. In every photograph, this technique generates a very special effect. Everything is unadulterated, every nuance, every pore is visible.
What's really fascinating too is that in a sense, that image is so malleable, it can become anything and anybody else's hands, and it can become anything and anybody else's mind. And we still have very strong feelings about who she is.
When she allows all these artists to do this, and she has to put her vanity aside and risk to a certain extent, risk her corporate image to do it is because, I would guess she likes feeling the chance to be another person.
Kate Moss is the million dollar baby of the 21st century - whoever uses her also helps himself. It is the same in the fashion world as it is in the art world. With her image, everything sells pricier, better, faster - in New York market as well.
Celebrated British artist Lucian Freud painted Kate Moss in 2002 when she was pregnant, it was an absolute sensation in the art world. For this English painter has consistently turned down prominent personalities apart from the queen.
[Jean-Paul Engelen, Specialist in Contemporary Art]
For us it was Freud, yes it was Kate Moss, but Kate Moss came in the way second, but for us it was Freud, that was the reason we are selling the picture, not because it was Kate Moss. But suddenly worldwide it became such a, if you sort of, press that came in from every corner of the world and find that we were selling Kate Moss, which became more important than Freud and that surprised us. Maybe I hadn't realized how big a phenomenon she was until that point.
The first thing is actually I think you're right, that it was the fact that it was Kate Moss created an extra atmosphere and an extra plus. And I think it also attracted a new type of buyer that we previously hadn't seen buying Lucian Freud paintings. So we expected it to do well at that time, it was quite a strong estimate of 2.5 to 3.5 million pounds in 2005 but it easily passed that mark, it would have went on and make the highest. I think that Kate Moss factor was also a big part of that because she was an icon too, so we have two icons Freud and Kate Moss, I think that definitely helped.
It's not just the Western art scene that is preoccupied with the phenomenon of Kate Moss, even in Communist China, artists are attended to the icons of consumers.
[Yang Yong, Artist]
Kate Moss embodies a feminine image of independence and individuality. She is unconventional yet trendy, cool yet self-involved.
Today, young women in China are experiencing an opening to the west and a process of globalization. Communication between China and the West increases daily. Step by step, Chinese women are discovering these changes for themselves, this different culture, this sense of independence.
[Colin Mc Dowell]
The broadest, crudest definition of art is that it has no purpose, it has no actual purpose whereas the broadest, crudest definition of fashion is its purpose is to stop us going around naked, and being cold or getting arrested, or whatever it is.
So it's not art but it is hugely important commercially because there is deep desire in mankind not necessarily to acquire, but to spend. To be able to spend money is something to do with your self-pride - "I have the money to buy the latest BMW or even just the latest little handbag in a mass store". They, models, sank by this, they say "Yes, it's alright to buy".
[Christian Boros, Media Manager]
This value of emotionalization Kate Moss has, you can't really value it highly enough. It is simply the best tool for giving things a soul. And she can enliven things.
After 20 years, it is impossible to imagine the fashion scene without Kate Moss. In fact, no other model has ever had so many contracts upon reaching the age of 37. She is by far one of the most highly paid models - creates handbags for LongChamp, works as a designer for the bargain chain Topshop and earns millions, none of which stops anyone from hiring her.
For Yves Saint Laurent, she was a muse from the first moment. Even today after his death, the label still works very closely with Kate Moss.
[Renaud De Lesquen, CEO YSL Beaute]
I cannot say anything about Kate's destiny. I very much hope that her success will be continued as I admire her very much. I hope that her life, in which she has survived difficult times does on like it does right now.
It is already clear by now - Kate is a myth of femininity of the 21st century and this title will be owned by her for a long time.
In the world of fashion, it is the women who inspire the designers, and it has always been so. Yves Saint Laurent was always inspired by muses, who are incredibly important.
For each generation, there are always one, two or three women who become genuine icons of femininity.
If you are working in an industry of artifice, and you know how artificial every single image is, you almost find it difficult to believe that other people are looking at something as if it's real and that's a very, perhaps cynical insider view because you are in the fashion industry, you are essentially selling fantasy.
These big corporate businesses, by hiring Kate Moss, essentially allow themselves to fly the pirate flag on their corporate vessel. It adds a bit of grunge, a bit of edge, a certain chic that they would not otherwise have and by aligning themselves with someone who is fully living and struggling with the modern life, they gain relevance.
Usually, when you work with other models, for a campaign, for a designer, it doesnt matter for which customer, and someone is standing there who has already done another campaign.
First reaction: she's already done one before, we want something new for us. With Kate, it just doesn't matter. Kate is Kate. Right ? It's a phenomenon. Kate does 10 campaigns and none of the 10 clients is bothered by her having made the other 9.
It sort of doesn't feel like she is this sort of driven maniac who is trying to have the greatest career in fashion ever - it just feels like destiny. It feels like something that is always meant to be and has happened to her.
I don't know, I think the role models are less and less important as everybody becomes less and less important.
Kate Moss, love her or hate her, is somebody whom young people have looked at and found relevant in her struggles, in her triumphs, in her successes - leave her beauty out of it, she affects the lives of people who look at her and read her story.