There has been much criticism, some overt and some covert, of the fact that at the tender age of 13, Kate Moss’s daughter Lila Grace is appearing with her mother on the cover of this week’s Vogue Italia, the most highly-regarded edition in fashion this week, at the tender age of 13.
Or, as the British Daily Mail, with its established habit of capitalizing apparently random words to generate extra outrage in its headlines, has it, “Kate Moss’s daughter is already a Vogue cover star … at just THIRTEEN.”
The pictures of Lila Grace—shot by Mario Sorrenti (Kate’s first great love, as long term Moss obsessives have been keen to point out) for a story entitled “LOVE”—are a powerful counterpoint to the Moss narrative: the images are very reminiscent of her mother at a similar age, but their stories are so different.
Let’s deal with the looks first: The generous lips and cat-like eyes are there, but her mother’s sharp cheekbones and snub nose are replaced by a fuller face and aquiline nose, more reminiscent of her father, Jefferson Hack, the founder of Dazed and Confused magazine (now just Dazed).
Hack is clearly on board with what looks like a well-orchestrated campaign to launch Lila Grace’s professional career. This weekend he spoke about his daughter on the record for the first time, telling the Sunday Times: “She thinks me and her mum are deeply uncool. I don’t think her music tastes are cool—Capital Radio and Justin Bieber. She keeps me real.”
But even if you happen to think 13 is too young to appear on the cover of Vogue, Lila Grace’s first outing into the world of fashion is undoubtedly very different from Kate’s.
The story goes that the girl who was to become the most iconic model of her age was spotted by her first agent in the late ’80s when Moss was standing with her father, who was arguing with an airline desk at New York City’s Kennedy airport. He was trying to get them both on a last minute flight back home to London from an American holiday for an important family event.
Kate and her father made it onto the flight, and agent Sarah Doukas signed up Moss over the Atlantic while the plane was still en route.
When Doukas got back to London, she immediately faxed Kate’s photograph to dozens of magazine editors.
At first, no one was interested in the scrawny schoolgirl from Croydon.
It wasn’t until she bagged a cover on the classic style mag The Face—photographed by a woman who would become a long-term collaborator, Corinne Day—that the world sat up and took notice.
Kate was then just 15 and the story (styled by Melanie Ward and shot on Camber Sands, an English seaside resort) included pictures of her naked and topless. It was decried in some parts as borderline child pornography, but the images didn’t kill Kate’s career, or Day’s. On the contrary, the images were seen by Fabien Baron, creative director of Calvin Klein, who swiftly acted to sign Kate up, and the world of fashion iconography changed overnight.
But Kate was damaged by the experience of teenage modeling stardom and ended up with serious alcohol and drug issues.
“Kate’s playing it very differently when it comes to her daughter,” says Maureen Callahan, fashion editor of the New York Post and author of the book Champagne Supernovas, about the ’90s London scene, “Lila is on the cover in her mother’s arms, in a protective embrace. That seems a message: that Kate is the one to answer to, the mama bear she never had.
“Kate’s mum sent her out on calls alone, when Kate was barely 15, to strange men who’d ask her to take her top off or get into bed. Her mother, Kate said, couldn’t be bothered to make the trip back and forth into London.”
Will Lila Grace Moss be the world’s next top model? With that name, and these pictures, you’d be mad to bet against it.