Moss still rocking 'n' rolling at 40
IT'S BEEN 26 years since the skinny girl from South London was spotted at John F. Kennedy International Airport, but Kate Moss, who celebrates her 40th birthday tomorrow, is still on top of her game.
The British supermodel greeted the landmark birthday in typically rocking style, by posing as a bunny girl for Playboy magazine in black stilettos and rabbit ears.
She riled a few feminists, but it was hard to deny that, while the years may be rushing by, she's still got it.
Moss has recently fronted campaigns by Versace and Rimmel and, although catwalk appearances are now rare, barely a month goes by where her image is not on the front pages.
The Londoner is the fourth-highest-paid model in the world, according to Forbes, earning US$5.7 million (S$7.2 million) between June 2012 and June last year.
Behind the cameras, Moss has a busy few months coming up, as she makes her debut as contributing fashion editor at British Vogue, and, in April, launches an eagerly anticipated collaboration with high-street fashion powerhouse Topshop.
Moss is everywhere, but her reticence to speak to the media means she remains something of a mystery - the result of a strategy recommended by former boyfriend Johnny Depp.
"He told me: 'Never complain, never explain'," she wrote in her 2012 book, Kate: The Kate Moss Book.
"That's why I don't use Twitter and things like that. I don't want people to know what is true all the time and that's what keeps the mystery."
This unknown element has only fuelled the curiosity, along with the rock 'n' roll lifestyle - Moss used to date tortured The Libertines frontman Pete Doherty, and is married to Jamie Hince, guitarist for The Kills.
She is rumoured to be planning an epic birthday party on Necker Island, tycoon Richard Branson's private retreat in the Caribbean - possibly with a Playboy theme.
"Kate has always represented a rock 'n' roll attitude. From the movie-star boyfriends to the wardrobe filled with vintage finds, Kate is simply cool," said senior fashion-news-and-features editor Katherine Ormerod at Grazia magazine.
The glossy has dedicated 17 pages to Moss' birthday, and Ormerod said her readers have always identified with the model's fun-loving side.
"Her legendary parties and glamorous costumes make her more than just another model," she said.
"Plus, Kate's style - which has remained constant with a host of signatures, rather than following every single trend - is inimitable."
Moss' birthday has been marked by a London exhibition of pictures taken from photographs throughout her career, and a biopic on French television, Looking For Kate.
Moss is not just a clothes horse, but also a muse, inspiring the painter Lucian Freud, sculptor Marc Quinn and designer John Galliano, whom she famously supported through his fallout with Dior.
The daughter of a barmaid and a travel agent from Croydon, a famously drab suburb of South London, Moss has always lived on the edge of scandal.
Early in her career, after she was spotted aged 14 at New York's JFK Airport, the pale-faced young model became the face of 1990s "heroin chic", a fashion trend blamed for glamourising drugs and anorexia.
Moss was accused again of being a bad role model in 2009 when she quipped that "nothing feels as good as skinny feels".
In 2005, she lost several major contracts after a video emerged apparently showing her taking cocaine, although she soon won them back.
Every few years, a model comes along who is touted as the new Moss, currently Cara Delevingne.
"But there will never be a new Kate, in the same way there will never be another Coco Chanel or Marilyn Monroe - she's a one-off," said Ormerod.
At least, perhaps, until Moss' 11-year-old daughter, Lila Grace, or another member of her family comes of age - her half-sister, Lottie, 16, recently signed up to the same modelling agency, Storm.