In a candid interview on Desert Island Discs, Kate Moss reveals the toxic truth about exploitation in the fashion industry and how, as a young teenager, she was targeted by sexual predators.
Now, she recalls being reduced to tears by photographers who pressured her to go topless. At 15, the self-conscious teenager was even forced to flee one session when she was asked to remove her bra.
‘I had a horrible experience for a bra catalogue,’ she tells the BBC Radio 4 programme. ‘I was only 15 probably and he said, “Take your top off”, and I took my top off. And I was really shy then about my body.
‘And he said, “Take your bra off”, and I could feel there was something wrong so I got my stuff and I ran away. I think it sharpened my instincts. I can tell a wrong ’un a mile away.’
Teenaged Kate, who signed to the Storm modelling agency in 1988 at the age of 14, would travel across London unaccompanied, completing up to eight modelling assignments a day.
During the radio show, she speaks about the shoot in 1990 that made her famous – but admits that revisiting the memory remains ‘painful’.
But the highs have been accompanied by lows and Moss speaks frankly about her battles with drink and drugs which almost derailed her career. She recalls her wild youth growing up in Croydon, South London, when she first went off the rails at 13 after her parents split.
I started smoking spliffs and hanging with people a lot older than me, a lot of older boys that kind of took me under their wing and protected me,’ she says.
‘They would take me to London on the train. I would get changed from my school uniform into clothes and go to Fred’s [a bar in Soho]. I didn’t even like the taste of alcohol.
‘I would drink Long Island Ice Teas because it didn’t taste of alcohol, but then of course it is a strong drink.’
Kate also reflects on the drugs scandal which threatened to destroy her career in 2005. She temporarily lost several lucrative contracts when a national newspaper published photos which appeared to show her taking cocaine.
Her career resumed, however, when police decided there was not enough evidence to take action.
‘I felt sick and was quite angry because everybody I knew took drugs so for them to focus on me and to try and take my daughter away, I thought was really hypocritical,’ she says.
‘I think I was a scapegoat for a lot of people’s problems,’ she says. ‘I was never anorexic, I never have been. I had never taken heroin.
‘I was thin because I didn’t get fed at shoots or in shows and I had always been thin. It was a fashion shoot. It was shot at my flat and that is how I could afford to live at the time.
‘And I think it was a shock because I wasn’t voluptuous and I was just a normal girl. I wasn’t a glamazon model, and that shocked them.’