Kate's place in our consumer society sparked Sachs's imagination as well. Sachs, whose conceptual sculpture and installation art have played with our quasi-fetishistic worship of status labels (think Prada plungers and Hermès hand grenades), dressed Kate not in couture but in a fast-food uniform. "Her appeal is universal, just like McDonald's," he explains. He is speaking, though, not only about Kate's pleasing aesthetic but about the ubiquity that attractiveness has wrought: "She's one of the highest paid fashion models ever. Of course her face is a brand—she's a commodity."
Sachs’s take is echoed in the words of Takashi Murakami, who rendered a pregnant Kate surrounded by his cartoonish iconography of colorful flying eyeballs. No stranger to the fashion world—his collaboration with Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton on a collection of handbags caused a shopping frenzy that hasn’t been seen since Tickle Me Elmo—Murakami says what interests him about Kate is “the fact that she is able to maintain her value for so long.” As if she were a blue-chip stock.
Her face is so recognizable the world over that Close—who is best known for his monumental paintings of faces—first had the inclination to eliminate it, making a daguerreotype diptych of her nude, headless torso, front and back, in the style that he has photographed dozens of lesser known subjects. He ended up, though, also being drawn to an “over-under” diptych of Kate from the chest up (showing her face) and the waist down. “She no longer has that waiflike body that we remember,” says Close, who spent a good deal of time talking with Kate about her recent pregnancy and delivery. “She seemed to be very happy with the changes that have happened to her body. She’s become a woman, broadened slightly.” At the end of the five-hour session, Kate got dressed and Chuck couldn’t help himself: He shot several compelling, tightly cropped pictures of her face.
Close was disarmed by her willingness to comply, particularly for the documentarylike nudes. “She wore no makeup; she hadn’t combed her hair,” he says, adding that she never even glanced in the mirror. “My daguerreotypes are not flattering—any flaws on one’s complexion are exaggerated wildly—and I thought she might be upset. But she said, ‘I’ve had enough pretty pictures made of me.’ She understood what it is that I do, and she was perfectly willing to provide it.”
That eagerness to get with the program could easily be mistaken for simple professionalism. Photographers who have worked with her consistently over the years, though, say Kate is not a passive mannequin. On the contrary, she is an active partner, essential to the image-making. “We create the thing together,” Juergen Teller says. (In case you’re wondering, the monkey in Teller’s diptych is a reference to his young daughter Lola’s nickname for Kate: Monkey Woman.) Nick Knight recalls a shoot that required Kate to sit on a swing for eight or nine hours, holding each of 50 or so positions but looking as if she were swinging fluidly and happily. “Kate Moss is an extraordinarily good model,” Knight says. “By that I mean she can interpret the clothes and can interpret the story very, very well.” She knows her body, he adds, and how to move. “It’s a very physical job. You should try standing in front of a wind machine for five hours—and looking sexy.”