Remembering Kate Moss‘ Calvin Klein Legacy

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It’s hard to underestimate the impact Kate Moss has had on the fashion industry since she broke onto the scene in the early ‘90s. In honor of Moss‘ 45th birthday today, as well as the recent departure of creative director Raf Simons from Calvin Klein, CR looks back on one of the most memorable Klein ads in recent history.

The aesthetic at the time was all bodacious bombshells—the supermodel phenomena defined by Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Stephanie Seymour, and Claudia Schiffer. Think: towering women with curves and physical presence and the type of powerful Amazonian creature celebrated by Helmut Newton. When Moss emerged, she was nothing like the women being cast and photographed for major brands and publications. At 5’7″ and just 14 years old, Moss was a different kind of supermodel—she represented the beginning of a new era of waif-esque beauty and grunge. Arguably, she is the last true supermodel.

The campaign that changed it all was Klein’s infamous TV reel shot by Herb Ritts, and starring Marky Mark and Moss. Leading up to the campaign, Moss signed a contract with Klein after photographer Patrick Demarchelier met her and compared her presence to that of Twiggy. When the ad was filmed in 1992, Moss showed up to set dreading stripping down and working with the actor. She later told the press that the shoot—interacting on camera barely clothed with Mark Wahlberg— led to a breakdown.

Still, her look redefined what Klein was all about. Gone were the big boobs and glamorous looks. The new American sex appeal was all about natural beauty, including crooked teeth, minimal makeup, raw personality, and honest humor.

“I wasn’t the Amazonian girl that everyone in fashion was used to, with the big tits, all curvy and tall,” Moss told Glenn O’Brien, the writer behind the famous Klein ad, in 2009. “I was small in comparison. It’s funny, though, because I always thought I was as tall as, like, Christy, and then I’d be doing her makeup in the mirror and realize that I was 5 inches shorter.”

Sometimes, attitude is everything. Happy Birthday, Kate.

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