South London born Moss was scouted by a leading model agent at 14, and began appearing in magazines and commercials at 16. As she celebrates her milestone birthday, it’s not hard to see why she is still as revered as one of Vogue’s favorite cover stars.
What followed was a meteoric rise to fame, where the waifish, 5-foot-7-inch Moss became the face of the infamous ’90s fashion trend “heroin chic” — a grungy contrast to the glamorous, leggy look popularized by fellow supermodels of the day, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer.
Soon, Moss was fronting campaigns for high-end fashion houses including Burberry, Chanel and Calvin Klein.
Throughout her long and storied career she has appeared on more than 40 covers of British Vogue. Though, arguably, it was her off-set appearances that captured the public’s attention as much as her more polished photoshoots. The model’s penchant for vintage clothing and her seemingly effortless ability to put together unique outfits earned her the often-repeated label of “global style icon.”
Even appearances at the UK’s rain-soaked Glastonbury festival started trends — her ability to make knee-high muddy rain boots work with ultra-short denim cut-offs spawned an ongoing, decades-long “festival dressing” trend before “going viral” online was even possible.
Legendary photographer David Bailey, who has taken some of the most iconic shots of Moss, previously explained to CNN why she is so successful: “Kate has a unique beauty that is totally democratic and has a universal appeal.”
Moss’ life has long been the subject of tabloid speculation. In addition to high-profile romances with Johnny Depp, magazine editor Jefferson Hack and The Libertines front man Pete Doherty, her alleged drug use was widely reported by the British media in 2005, leading her to lose lucrative modelling contracts with Burberry, Chanel and H&M.
She later issued a public apology and, that fall, voluntarily entered a rehabilitation clinic in Arizona. (“I felt sick and was quite angry, because everybody I knew took drugs,” she recalled to the BBC in a rare radio interview in 2022. “So for them to focus on me, and to try to take my daughter away, I thought was really hypocritical.”)
Moss later went on to climb Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s highest-paid models. Since officially retiring from the runway in 2004, she has set up her own modeling agency, as well as her own wellness brand, Cosmoss.
She has been immortalized in gold by Marc Quinn, in what the artist claimed was the largest gold statue since Ancient Egypt, and painted by Lucian Freud. She has even appeared in music videos for the likes of Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney, Primal Scream, The White Stripes and Elton John, helping secure her place in pop culture history.
Scroll through the gallery above to see some of the most memorable moment’s from Kate Moss’ life and career.