Kate Moss only has to snap her fingers and any piece of hot-off-the-catwalk designer fashion that catches her eye will be tissue-wrapped and fast-tracked to her door. She doesn’t need to look at price tags or concern herself with waiting lists. What Moss wants in her wardrobe, Moss gets, straight away. If she wants the Paris fashion week hit dress from the cover of Vogue or the It bag on this month’s billboards, it is hers for the asking.
But what has been her signature high-fashion look? Vintage, that’s what. Vintage is to Moss as Givenchy was to Audrey Hepburn and as Hermès is to Jane Birkin. It is the name in the label of her best-ever looks. The lemon-yellow dress she wore to a New York fashion week dinner in 2003, which she later reincarnated in her Topshop collection? A vintage piece by 1950s French couturier Jean Dessès. The black cocktail dress with feathered off-the-shoulder hemline she wore on the red carpet at Cannes in 1998? A vintage shantung silk piece, given a minimal 90s spin with scraped back hair and simple black strappy slingback sandals. At Glastonbury in 2005, with cut-off denim shorts and Hunter wellies? A 1970s Roncelli leather jacket.
Now that it is the height of sustainable, zeitgeist cool to wear vintage, can we take a moment to acknowledge that Moss has been across this since the days when she was going out with Johnny Depp. Secondhand to her has never been second best. When she threw herself a 30th birthday party – at Claridges, in the full-on bling glare of 2004 – the look she splashed out on for the occasion was not Tom Ford for Gucci, but a dramatic retro sequinned gown with matching cape she found in a vintage store. Her passion for Vivienne Westwood’s pirate-style strapped flat ankle boots, which she first bought on Portobello market, has lasted longer than any of her relationships. When she wants to look special, she goes vintage.
What can mere mortals learn about wearing vintage from how Moss wears vintage? There are some nuggets of wisdom in a book she has edited, Musings on Fashion and Style: Museo de la Moda, in collaboration with the Chilean fashion museum. Firstly, she looks at the garment, not the label. When she shops for the 1970s peasant-style dresses she loves, she sifts the racks for the colors that look right, first of all. And when she bought that lemon-yellow dress, the one that would have broken the internet had it been possible then, she didn't know who Dessès was. Second, Moss knows what suits her. Bias-cut dresses, for instance, are a vintage-shop treasure, which Moss loves to be flattering, subtly sexy and easy to have fun in. In the words of Madeleine Vionnet, whose bias-cut gowns were the toast of the 1930s Paris, "When a woman smiles, her dress should smile with her."
The perfect vintage look sometimes means going the extra mile, and Moss puts in the time and effort.
Moss has been on 30 British Vogue covers and thousands of newspaper front pages. She has made cameos on film and television, been painted by Lucian Freud and sculpted in bronze by Marc Quinn. She has a remarkable roll-call of vintage moments – and in the best of them, she’s wearing vintage.
You have now been vintage shopping for a long time. What have you learned?
I just go with my first instincts when I see something I like. It doesn’t matter to me the designer or the era, just that the item appeals to me and looks good when I try it on.
Do you like the history and stories that vintage clothes contain?
Yes, I love the idea that the clothes have a history and have been worn previously. Who knows what they have experienced? Also, it’s good that clothes are recycled and worn again rather than being thrown out.
Original text: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/oct/09/i-go-with-my-instincts-queen-of-vintage-kate-moss-on-how-to-shop-secondhand