As her first line of clothing arrives in London's Top Shop, the supermodel gets a different kind of makeover
With her first line of clothing due to cause riots in Topshop at the beginning of next month, plus other projects in the pipeline, Brand Moss has arrived, her new image sealed by an identity masterminded by Peter Saville, in collaboration with typographer Paul Barnes.
"Kate is in an exceptional territory of her own," explains Saville. "She is an icon to everyone, in that young women can relate to her and aspire to be her. She's an accessible icon, and similarly she's not intimidating. She's synonymous with possibility for young women—she's not impossibly beautiful, or alluring, or mannered. It's that that's made her such an astonishing role model for her times. Plus Kate has never denied or denounced her roots; she hasn't moved on to another world. All this has endeared Kate to a generation. She's a brand. And this next stage for her is the inevitable product realisation of that brand."
Moss' collaboration with Topshop has been well documented, but her brand power won't end there, and Storm, her modelling agent, realised the necessity for a single identity to be used across her various products. "Storm realised that the graphic responsibility of the brand was theirs, that we must bring it in house and then licence it to our partners, there must not be different representations of an identity of Kate Moss," continues Saville.
"We needed something that was popular but quite boho. We didn't want it to be an exploration of a teenage girl thing as that's quite trite, and Kate can be a signifier of certain values for the rest of her life, I don't think she'll disappear. So we needed something that was right for now, but also had some longevity."
Saville originally experimented with variations of Moss' signature, but then abandoned this strategy and approached Barnes to discuss fonts. "He's a wonderful guide to letters and was able to fast-track us to the suspects. 'Kate' was really easy—there were lots of fonts that worked with that. But 'Moss' was difficult, it kept slipping into National Trust territory or Moss Bros and that was completely off-message."
Barnes then suggested a variation on a typeface by Alexey Brodovitch, the legendary art director of Harper's Bazaar from 1934-58. "I rediscovered it by looking at an old type catalogue, and it's always been in my mind to use it for something," he explains. "I tried it for this almost as a kind of joke, but the actual combinations of letters worked well, the words 'Kate Moss' looked really good. It embodies the spirit of Kate Moss, it's sophisticated yet modern. It has a quirkiness and modernity because it's almost geometric. It has a very modern feel, but also has heritage—it was designed by the principle art director of his time, if not all time."
Moss' involvement in the process came towards the end, when Saville presented her with 20 identity options to view in a meeting that gave him a taste of the model's paparazzi-hunted lifestyle, when the two were photographed smoking cigarettes out of Storm's office windows and ended up in the News of the World and on the cover of a French gossip mag, which questioned who Moss's "mystery new man" was. Despite such intrusions, the meeting couldn't have gone smoother, with Moss instinctively agreeing with the designers' favourite. "We presented the list of fonts to Kate, but when she turned to that page, she just said ‘that's the one that I want'," says Saville. "She saw that it was right."
So if this is Moss, any suggestions for typographic representations of the other "Supers"? Psycho Vamp for Naomi perhaps? "A little bit crazy, a whole lot dangerous"...