Thu, Aug 03, 2006 - Page 13 News List

Has Kate Moss lost her mojo?

She's bounced back from a drug scandal and is as in demand as ever. So why is the queen of style suddenly looking, well, a little unstylish?

By Paula Cocozza  /  THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

Silence the voice in your head that says her legs look fantastic in those shorts: this is not about her body, it's about her clothes.

A belt hangs low around her hips. And while this might in itself seem like a harmless enough detail, it looks dated, recalling all those big belts with peasant skirts that flip-flopped relentlessly down high streets last summer. Historically, Moss has always led rather than followed fashion and, having done so, swiftly moved on. She wore Balenciaga before people were talking about it; she put ballet flats with skinny jeans; she helped gold jewelry to supplant silver, and was even responsible for the reintroduction to respectable wardrobes of the humble Wellington Boot. Now it seems that she has stopped moving, and we have stopped following, and not only because there are few things in fashion as alienating as a pair of hot pants.

“It's quite rock ‘n’ roll,” says Angela Buttolph, contributing editor of Grazia magazine. “Hotpants are small, you can just fold them in a bag, take them anywhere. She's leading a really nomadic lifestyle. It's as if she just jumps in them and goes out the door. But I think people are getting bored of the hot pants. She's hardly worn anything else.“

And Moss is not the only one who is making the outfit look familiar. A strikingly similar pair of hot pants is being given an intensive summer workout by Victoria Beckham. The printed top and low-slung belt Moss wore to the O2 festival in June recalled Sienna Miller's boho fixation of last summer. There are other similarities: another Moss seasonal staple, the long T-shirt belted and worn as a dress, has also been sported repeatedly by Beckham, as has the waistcoat worn with nothing underneath. Moss, in short, is dressing like the people who have always dressed like her.

“Usually she'll do something, everyone else will do it — and then she'll do something else,” says Buttolph. “Normally it's held that Posh [Victoria Beckham] jumps on a look and Kate jumps in the opposite direction. But she's still wearing hot pants while Posh is. If you were looking for the next thing at the moment, you wouldn't be looking to Kate Moss.”

When, on Sept. 15 last year, grainy pictures of Moss allegedly snorting cocaine appeared on the front page of the London-based Daily Mirror, it looked as if, at 31, her career might have come to a premature end. In fact, nothing could have been further from the truth. Her earnings have trebled in the months since. New contracts with Virgin Mobile, the luxury leather goods brand Longchamp, Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein and Roberto Cavalli alone are thought to amount to around ?6 million. Tomorrow, Moss will appear on her third Vogue cover in six months. Rather than heralding the beginning of the end, the scandal has served only to invigorate her career. But if Moss is more in demand than ever at work, away from it, in civilian clothes, she has never looked less inspiring.

So why has she started dressing badly? Perhaps we need to trace a familiar path in search of the culprit, to the doors of her boyfriends. There has been much talk about the damaging effect of Moss's relationship with Pete Doherty on her health — but what about the havoc her relationships are wreaking on her wardrobe? When she wore a gray two-piece trouser suit with a long-sleeved white T-shirt poking out of her jacket sleeves, it was hard not to see the influence of Doherty. On more than one occasion recently she has sabotaged her outfit with a necktie that bears an uncanny resemblance to the trademark of her friend Russell Brand.

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