Focus: The Kate I know

... is super-bright, open and direct. She's paid to look great, and does. So she likes a party, has a karaoke habit and has taken cocaine. Is that enough to crucify her, asks Janet Street-Porter
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The Independent Online

Katie is anything but a style icon. The chances of her featuring in Vogue are less than zero. But, she's got a disabled child she clearly adores, and made millions flaunting her physical attributes, and writing an autobiography bought by people who never read books. You can deride and sneer at this Katie, but she's turned tackiness into a million-pound business.

Kate is also a millionairess, but her breasts are those of a pubescent teenager. Her torso and legs are untroubled by an ounce of flab. This Kate also has a partner in the music industry. Unlike Katie's Peter with his plastic pop, Kate's Pete is regarded as a brilliant poet, potentially a real star. He's strangely old-fashioned looking, with pasty white skin and a long shapeless body. But he is stylish, from the trilby on his head to the shoes held together with tape, and is featured in a new photographic book about the London scene by Hedi Slimane, the world's leading menswear designer.

You don't get much more iconic than that. Thin Kate is the most famous model in the world, the subject of a gala tribute at a museum in New York only the other month. She is the face, more than any other, that makers of luxury clothing and cosmetics use to flog their products. This is a woman who puts on wellingtons at a pop festival and they sell out all over Britain.

Kate and Katie understand what they are selling and who they are selling it to, perfectly. Katie couldn't give a stuff that the press mocked her wedding last weekend, with its white thrones and C-list of soap stars. This Katie had negotiated a massive sum from OK! magazine - way more than the pittance paid for Posh'n'Becks - to have every minute of the day splashed over almost an entire issue. This Katie writes books, appears on television, can't stop doing interviews. Her career is going to be brief, and she is maximising every opportunity.

The other Kate realises she too has one stab at making a fortune. She's extended her career brilliantly, considering she's shorter than other catwalk models. She wisely doesn't give interviews, offer her views on child poverty, appear on television or pose on red carpets for the paparazzi. This Kate gets up and is turned into someone else, by an army of make-up artists, hairdressers, and stylists. Her value is huge, because she is the ultimate chameleon, making a cheap Rimmel lipstick as desirable as a Chanel fur coat. She is professional.

Thin Kate loves clothes. Off-duty, she's got the knack of choosing to wear something you wish you'd thought of. Unlike Madonna, it's never a recognisable label. She puts old stuff and Top Shop on with couture and something from the back of the wardrobe. She is extremely calculating about how she looks. The result: a captivating joie de vivre that women of all ages admire.

But Kate Moss was crucified in the media last week. Her crime: to be sneakily photographed on someone's mobile phone in a recording studio taking cocaine. (Surely an invasion of privacy.) From the moment she started a relationship with Pete Doherty, the tabloids have been on her case. If he wants to use heroin and crack, is he any different from dozens of other pop stars? Critics talked about the genius of William Burroughs, but he hardly drew his inspiration from cider, did he? The Rolling Stones go back on tour, but no one's writing about Keith Richard and how he's still alive.

The last time I talked to Pete Doherty was in Paris, in July, and he was a charming, if incoherent, shambling mess. But if an adult single woman wants to hang out with trouble on two legs, it's hardly the first time. The hypocrisy of journalists competing to write about "cocaine Kate" is breathtaking. I've seen plenty of writers, television executives and newspaper hacks snorting coke during my party-going years, yet no one is getting concerned that a large part of the media and PR industry in the UK is fuelled by class A drugs; it's just not newsworthy.

I met Kate Moss years ago at a friend's house, and adore her. She's fun, super-bright, amazingly open and direct. Almost too frank. You don't stay at the top of a fickle business like modelling or pop music for a long time unless you're clever. Kate Moss likes a party, is a karaoke enthusiast, always the liveliest person you could want to talk to. She brightens every room she enters. Her 30th birthday was such fun that I fell off a bed at Claridge's at four in the morning, totally drunk. I make no judgement about her behaviour. She's paid to look great, not teach citizenship or run for public office.

As for being a role model, she has had that absurd idea thrust upon her by the same journalists who spent the past few days running her down. Kate is paid to sell stuff, and it's up to us to buy into the dreams she peddles in her photos or not. Karl Lagerfeld doesn't go around doing random drug-testing at his fashion shows, and I don't expect anyone will be rushing to inspect the toilets at the parties during British Fashion Week. Did we accuse the other Katie of being a poor role model who might encourage girls to submit to cosmetic surgery, don a thong, and expect fame and fortune?

Like Marianne Faithful and Anita Pallenberg, Kate is a butterfly some would like to break on a wheel. When I buy a Roberto Cavalli dress or a Burberry jacket, I don't expect the label to contain a health warning about the drugs consumed during its evolution from concept to hanger. If Kate Moss wants to over-indulge, whose business is it but her own?

Tracey Emin, artist: 'She is brainy, and pays her taxes'

"I wouldn't be friends with her if she was a complete coke head. I hate cocaine. All my friends know that. Kate has done wonders for the fashion industry in Britain. She is a natural role model, she is quite brainy and she is really discreet.

"She doesn't take from anybody. She works for her living and she pays a lot of taxes. And she is a fantastic mother. Her little girl is a lovely child, really together and sorted. And I find it really offensive that the press are trying to niggle at that. There was a survey done about cocaine. The BBC toilets, the Houses of Parliament ... no surface was untouched by it. Instead of questioning Kate, maybe people should be questioning the whole thing about cocaine in Britain."

Dinos Chapman, artist: 'Everyone enjoys kicking her'

"Knowing Kate socially, she is a resilient person. She's certainly bigger than this kind of story. I just can't understand why everyone seems to enjoy kicking her. They just don't know when to lay off. It's no one's business whether she was taking cocaine. I've only seen a couple of dodgy photographs in a newspaper but they could have been altered for all I know. It's that very English thing of getting more pleasure and more fun out of giving someone a good beating. The papers have got it in for Kate and Pete. When I'm at parties, I don't actually see much of that kind of thing among my friends. But either way, my friends can do what they like. It's their own business."

Interviews by Katy Guest and Danielle Demetriou