Ready To Wear: The Kate Moss Years

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about The Kate Moss Years - the two-part Channel 5 documentary covering the life and times of Kate Moss that concluded last week - was the fact that the subject herself barely made an appearance. The odd moment of archive footage aside - David Bailey interviewing Moss in a greasy spoon for his excellent model documentary a good 10 years ago now; Kate appearing for, well, about 30 seconds on breakfast TV even longer ago than that; and the endless flashing of a filler snap of her aged about five aside, she was, for the most part, conspicuous by her absence.

Of course, that is not something that the programme-makers would have wanted. It's simply that such low-budget television can rarely afford more than a fairly average cut-and-paste job. And this was just that. More significantly, however, there really isn't very much high-quality archive footage of Kate Moss in existence, expensive or otherwise. And that, of course, brings us to both the reason behind society's obsession with the model, over and above any of her contemporaries, and to the secret of her professional success.

Intentionally or otherwise - and I suspect Ms Moss knows exactly what she's doing - this is one celebrity who has refused to pander to the media's interest in her in anything but the most perfunctory- and, indeed, even plain condescending - manner. The image of suitably rapt admirers queuing up to catch a glimpse of Moss behind glass in the window of Topshop at the launch of her collection for that chain in May last year said it all.

While the majority of today's celebrities seem unable to resist the lure of the spotlight, Moss, with the exception of the Mirror's infamous expose and Pete Doherty's big mouth, has managed to keep her private life private, giving the world just enough of herself to keep them interested without ever revealing too much in the process. She seems to be only too aware of the Proustian concept that once a human being knows another completely, warts and all, love, and obsessive love in particular, is no longer a possibility (thank you, Marcel, for that).

We all love - or indeed love to hate - Kate Moss, not least because we really don't know very much about her. And two hours (two hours!) of primetime viewing featuring various pundits analysing her impact did little to change that fact. Instead, our fantasies were once again projected on to the model, just like the fantasies of every stylist and photographer who has worked with her have been throughout her long and lucrative career.

Kate Moss, then, remains the ultimate blank canvas, and so a fashion superstar to upstage all other fashion superstars endures.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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