Kate Moss Goes Curvy: Will Other Models Follow?

"Heroin-chic" pioneer puts on pounds and signals potential industry change.

March 2, 2009, 4:46 PM

March 3, 2009— -- Kate Moss has curves.

The model who pioneered "heroin chic" and has always been a mere sliver of a person made headlines last month when she posed for New York magazine and showed off a new curvier body. Immediately, she was forced to dispel rumors that she was pregnant.

"I'm a woman now," she told the magazine. "I've never worn a bra in my life. Ever! It's so awful, even my friends are phoning me up and saying 'are you pregnant?' And I'm like, 'no! I just put on a couple of pounds, and they went in the right place.' Isn't that weird?"

Weird as it may be, the timing is apparently good for Moss, 35, who is about to expand her successful clothing line TopShop to include lingerie and who coincidentally started wearing a bra herself.

The timing could also be good for an industry that's long been criticized for using stick-thin figures on the runways and in magazines.

Trendsetter that she is, the new curvier Moss, who helped usher in the most recent era of super-skinny models, could be signaling a sea change in the industry back to healthier-looking models.

"To some extent, as goes Kate, so goes fashion," said Kohle Yohannan, a cultural historian and co-curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit "The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion," which will feature Moss. "As Kate Moss approaches the age and body type of a more viable couture customer, her credibility as a model only rises."

Not so fast, says Kelly Cutrone, founder of fashion public relations firm People's Revolution and a regular on MTV's "The Hills" and "The City."

"She's curvy for Kate, not curvy for us," Cutrone told ABCNews.com. "She might be a [size] 4, as opposed to a 0. That's different from curvy for any Kate. I don't think she's going to be the girl to bring curvy in, in a big way. I don't think she's a plus-size model waiting to happen.

"This is very unlike her," Cutrone said. "I think maybe something else is going on. She's in love, maybe she's pregnant. I'm still not so sure she's not pregnant."

Neal Hamil, director of Elite Models, also believes Moss's curves are just temporary.

"Her being a little heavier, curvier rather, that could be gone in three weeks," Hamil told ABCNews.com.

New President: New Attitude in Fashion Industry?

While Moss may not be leading the charge, Hamil believes that bony models are on their way out.

"We're in a new time, we have a new attitude," he said. "I honestly believe the healthy, happy-looking girl is going to be the one to win."

"We need some happy," Hamil said. "I love that Isaac Mizrahi calls his collection Smile, because it's so true."

"I think there's going to be less and less of that blank, vacant, cold stare coming down the runway. The ice-princess look," he said. "A major stylist said during the London shows, 'I think all of that is so over and so boring and so stupid.'"

Moss helped popularize the vacant stare. After appearing in the 1993 Calvin Klein underwear ads, Moss became synonymous with the waifish, pale, drug-addicted look that came to be known as "heroin chic."

Her emaciated, androgynous features, a stark contrast to the vibrant, healthy look of earlier supermodels Christie Brinkley, Claudia Schiffer and Cindy Crawford, drew widespread criticism, including from then-President Clinton.

"The 'heroin chic' label was thrown on Kate as a result of her naturally minimalist physique and her huge success, which coincided with the more gaunt, drawn looks of the mid-1990s," Yohannan told ABCNews.com.

Yohannan said Moss once commented to photographer David Bailey that she had "been blamed for everything from smoking to anorexia to heroin."

"Kate was a reflection of the trend, though hardly the author of it," Yohannan said.

Nonetheless, Moss' "anti-model" look established her as fashion's newest muse. By her agent's own count, she has appeared on the cover of Vogue 27 times, the most of any model, and has done campaigns for nearly every major designer from Chanel to Yves Saint-Laurent.

Even when Moss' real life began to mirror her fashion industry image, her career hardly suffered. In September 2005, a British tabloid published photos of what appeared to be Moss snorting cocaine. Burberry, Chanel and H&M dropped her from scheduled campaigns and Moss was forced to issue an apology, though she did not admit to using drugs.

Kate Moss Makes Moves to Preserve Legacy

"I take full responsibility for my actions. I also accept that there are various personal issues that I need to address and have started taking the difficult, yet necessary, steps to resolve them," she said in a statement. "I want to apologize to all of the people I have let down because of my behavior, which has reflected badly on my family, friends, co-workers, business associates and others."

A year later, according to Forbes.com, she had earned more money than before the cocaine scandal -- $8 million in 2005-06, compared to $5 million in 2004-05. In 2008, Forbes said, only two models -- Gisele Bundchen and Heidi Klum -- had earned more than Moss.

In May, Moss will become the first model to host the Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual gala, where the fashion, Hollywood and music elite bond over fashion.

Next month, her TopShop store, with clothes ranging in price from about $25 to $200, finally arrives on this side of the pond with its April 2 opening in downtown New York.

At an age when most models are out of the picture, Moss is poised to become a symbol of both fashion and style.

"Insiders have known for years that Kate Moss has a personal sense of style that becomes fashion news," Yohannan said. "Her success lies in a rare and unaffected instinct to mix haute couture with jumble sale finds, high fashion with high street, and as such she embodies the perfect mix of high-low that resonates so thoroughly today."

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