On the second day of New York Fashion Week, Kate Moss sits beneath a handful of high-voltage camera lights in a suite in the Mandarin Oriental. She’s just left a ballroom full of beauty editors in celebration of a new makeup launch by the Japanese skin-care brand Decorté, for which she is the face and creative director—and she looks confidently, effortlessly, jaw-droppingly beautiful. She’s just smoked a cigarette, this writer can smell it, and yet, her lips remain immaculately drawn-in, not a smudge of red paint has escaped her pillowy mouth.
It’s thanks to the brand’s The Rouge Matte Lip Stick, she says, and “[makeup artist] Dick Page, who is in the next room; he did my first-ever shoot with Corinne Day, and we’re both still here,” she says with a laugh. The same goes for James Brown, a former hairdresser and childhood friend who styled today’s Decorté campaign. “The only time I get to see some of my best friends is when I work, which is a big reason I keep working,” says Moss.
These days, the bulk of her schedule is devoted to running her two-year-old talent company, the Kate Moss Agency, which is committed to a newer set of standards than those of Moss’s early days—including a more respectful and caring approach to talent. “Age is really important to me,” she says when asked about the fine print on her site that reads applicants who are under the age of 18 must have parental consent. “I was very young, and it was hard, but I got through it—I was quite tough—these days, I think young models need somebody there with them.”
Young is an understatement for Moss, who bounced around go-sees in her early days only to meet rejection—her word, not mine—after getting into the industry at the tender age of 14. “I’d go to eight castings a day and get none, maybe one,” she says. “I got used to rejection very early on. But now, I’m like, ‘What do you mean the option came off?’ ”
Of course, the fashion icon herself, now 44, is not being released from jobs, but sometimes her clients at her British modeling agency are. “They’re like my babies,” she says of rising faces such as the curly headed Elfie Reigate (a daughter of close friend and former supermodel Rosemary Ferguson) and Luka Isaac, a French male model who was first tapped by the racy virtuoso Gaspar Noé. “When they don’t get booked, I’m heartbroken.”
On the roster also sits the musician and muse Jamie Bochert, whose strikingly dark features are essentially the polar opposite of fellow signee Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie, with her towering height and ice blonde coloring (her skin, her hair, her brows)—or, say, Rita Ora, another established name at the agency. And while physically Moss’s clients may have little to nothing in common, emotionally, she insists, they are one in the same. “They’re not just faces,” she says, “there is something going on underneath that makes them all special and wonderful.” Besides, she continues, beauty nowadays has less to do with physical appearances than in her time—thank gosh for that, her facial expression says. “It’s about kindness—that’s what I’m looking for.”
And while behind the scenes is where Moss, also a contributing editor to British Vogue, prefers to sit nowadays—unless she’s in the countryside, where there are spas instead of scenes, and absolutely no social media (“I spy occasionally,” she admits, “I only know about the cool new beauty products [on Instagram] from Lila, who goes, ‘Mummy, I need that Kylie Jenner lipstick!’ ”)—the ’90s icon can’t completely step out of the spotlight. “I like beauty and fashion too much,” she says with a smile. “And, by the way, I love your outfit.”
This article first appeared on Vogue.com