’GRAM GRAMMAR: Kate Moss by Juergen Teller

An INDEX series looking at what nourishes our feed. Attention, please, and welcome to today’s Gram Grammar lesson.

WORDS Jonathan Mahon-Heap

kate moss

Today: Kate Moss with PinkHair by Juergen Teller, 1998

It’s 1998. Clinton is President. The mini-skirt suit is a red carpet staple. Doo Wop (That Thing) by Lauryn Hill bounces off the speakers. Armageddon is (unbelievably) the film of the year. Inside the spa of Gianni Versace, Juergen Teller and Kate Moss are shooting together. Their resulting portrait has become a byword for 90s nostalgia; screeds of accounts captioned with the likes of ‘weekend mood’, adroitly followed with this shot of a doe-eyed/faced Kate, her hair in tendrils of dusty pink. 

Teller and Moss met when Moss was just 15. She fills out many pages of Woo!, a kaleidoscopic look at Teller’s career, from his 2013 exhibition of the same name at London’s ICA Gallery (in ‘Kate Moss, No.12’, Teller would put her naked in a wheelbarrow). “Ι do get his twistedness.”  Kate Moss said of Teller, whose wilfully askance looks imbue all of his subjects with a little of the photographer’s own mania.

But it was another fashion scion who had decided on the pink hair: Donatella Versace. The week prior, Versace asked Kate to match the rose dust pink of her accessories. Colourist Laurie Foley worked on the transformation, and has described it as “all hush-hush”. “They drove Kate in a car with a hat on and snuck her into the atelier, inside Gianni’s old spa in Milan. It took at least eight hours because we had to get that brunette off of her without damaging the hair.” Bored in lockdown? Think pink. Or rose gold, rather (the colour described by The New Yorker as “gold for people who already have enough gold gold.”)

It’s a custom colour, which Foley achieved by taking “her all the way light and then I over-toned it with a beige, sparkly champagne toner to get that pinky-purple, dusty, vintage-inspired pink.” Kate then opened the runway of Gianni Versace’s SS99 show in this stunning pink, soundtracked by Diva Surprise and Georgia Jones (alongside Naomi Campbell and Gisele Bundchen).

Luminous, knowing, 24-year-old Kate had already been modelling for a decade in this shot. Nearly half a century later, the colour, the grin, the twistedness live on (and on, and on).

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