The idea that Vetements would cast Kate Moss for its show on Friday—its first since the departure of its longtime creative chief, Demna Gvasalia—made perfect sense. But once again, the label outdid itself: Instead, it cast a Kate Moss lookalike, generating even more buzz by inducing a mass state of confusion that stretched from online to backstage. Moss was actually elsewhere in Paris, at the Dior mens show, but for a while, the only person who seemed to realize as much was the self-described “Fake Moss” herself, whose actual name is Denise Ohnona.
At this point, the 39-year-old mum of two is used to all the double takes. She’s been mistaken for the 46-year-old supermodel practically her entire life, though it wasn’t until about a year ago that she decided to enter the surprisingly robust industry of lookalikes. Ohnona wasn’t the only lookalike to join the Vetements cast; there was also an “Angelina Jolie,” a “Sharon Stone,” a “Mike Tyson,” a “Snoop Dogg,” and of course, a “Naomi Campbell.” But she was by far the most convincing—not just at the Vetements show, but across practically the entire workforce of lookalikes. On occasion, she even fools the paparazzi.
Back home at a “small village” four hours from Liverpool, where she’d just taken her kids out for a bit of arts and crafts, Ohnona shared what it’s like to live a double life (and to wreak havoc on the Vetements runway).
How and when did Vetements first reach out to you?
I’ve done little bits of the Kate Moss lookalike for the past year, and an agent from Germany got in touch with me and said that a designer was looking for some lookalikes. He just sent some of my photos and videos over and they said ‘Yep, we want you to come.’ But I thought that I was just there to mix and mingle, like at an after-party. I didn’t actually realize that I was walking.
When did you find out?
They said I needed to get a doctors note to say I was of a healthy BMI to walk in the show, so then I was like, Uhh, okay, I must be walking in the show. I got my note and everything, but it wasn’t until the day before when I realized just how big of a scale it was on. When I saw the space we were going to walk in, which was a huge warehouse, and they told me I was going to be walking for two-and-a-half minutes, I did get a bit nervous.
Had you ever walked in a show before?
Had you ever been to Fashion Week?
No. I’ve only ever seen it on YouTube or social media. I was totally blind when I went.
Had you heard of Vetements?
I’d heard of them, but I had a little look and saw McDonald’s show and the ones a few years before. I thought Oh, this is cool—it’s great because they’re going to really cover me up in loads of big clothes. And of course they put me in the smallest dress ever. [Laughs.] I think it was quite clever what they did, though.
Did you know any of the other lookalikes who walked beforehand?
I’ve met so many lookalikes but none of them in particular. Sharon Stone is actually from where I’m from, so we hit it off. Mike Tyson is from London. Snoop [Dogg] is from the Netherlands, and he’s so much like the same character as Snoop Dogg. It’s quite funny—he’s so chill and seems to have that same attitude. So we’re all friends now—we always make friends when we do different jobs as lookalikes. I don’t think anyone was really sure what we were doing, but obviously as the time got closer, we realized we were walking in the show. Like I said, I thought we were going to entertain afterwards. As a lookalike, I usually get invited to a whole range of events to mix and mingle with people who want to get photographs and stuff like that.
What type of people usually reach out to you? What do you think is the appeal?
It could be anyone. I’ve only been doing it for about a year, and before that, I never really understood it. My mentality was: Why would anyone ever want a lookalike? They’re just going to want the real thing. I didn’t even realize there was a market for it. And then when I got involved in this world of lookalikes, I realized that people go crazy for them. They find it fun and amusing and entertaining, and the confusion draws more publicity to whatever it is that they’re trying to achieve. I can kind of understand the buzz of being around lookalikes now, too—like, when I met the Angelina Jolie lookalike I was kind of starstruck, because she’s just identical.
Did people mistake you for Kate when you were backstage?
Yep. It was so funny because I went in there with no makeup on, and I was eating pieces of cauliflower, and everybody was taking my photo. And then when we were in the lineup, it was just, Can I have your photo? Can I have your photo? Some people were like, Why didn’t you tell me Kate Moss was here? They all thought it was Kate Moss. One particular model thought everyone was playing a joke on her—that I was Kate Moss and they were pretending that I wasn’t. And after the show, every time I tried to get dressed it would be Can I have your photo? Can I have your photo? I kept having to put the dress back on again. I must have taken hundreds and hundreds of photos with people. A lot of people were initially so confused. The show was in the dark, and all I could hear when I was walking was Kate Moss? Kate Moss? Kate Moss?, all the way through. It fooled people, and I think that’s what they wanted to do. You know, it’s a bit of fun.
There was no lighting on the runway, right?
It was all in the dark, and I was worried about that, because I’m not used to heels that high. And I’m walking so fast because some of the models are so tall—maybe like one step is two to me. [Laughs.] I had to walk so fast. The model in front of me was probably one of the tallest, and I was like, maybe you could have just graduated it. But there was enough light from the torches and the cameras. And all of the lights were on for the finale; I was like, I can see! I’m just glad that I didn’t fall over. But imagine if I did—then it would be like, Fake Moss fell over!
How tall are you?
I’m 5’4”. [Laughs.]
Well, Kate is pretty short for a model.
I know, so I thought I might get away with it. But she’s a couple inches bigger than me. But don’t forget, I wasn’t the only lookalike.
But you were by far the best! In my opinion, anyway, but that definitely seemed to be the consensus.
Aw, that’s so cute. Some of the models were telling me that, which was so nice. Because the thing for me is that there’s thousands of lookalikes out there. But I’ve not really found another Kate Moss lookalike just to have a little chat with, so we could go through it together. It’s so hard to be like, Oh yeah, I’m a lookalike for Kate Moss, because there’s only one Kate Moss, you know what I mean? It’s not like I’m trying to be Batman or something. It’s Kate Moss.
So you’ve never met another “Kate Moss”?
I haven’t met another one. And I think that’s why I started doing it. I just gave up in the end, because people kept asking me if I could do jobs, but my mentality then was, I can’t be a Kate Moss lookalike—I’m gonna look like an idiot. And then I think I had a midlife crisis and I went, Screw it—just do it. For a while it was off the agenda, as far as I was concerned, because I was in a big car accident when I was 18 and got a big scar on my head. And now, it doesn’t bother anyone else. People are doing a lot worse to change themselves, through all kinds of apps and things these days. I just got over it, really.
I didn’t notice it at all.
You know what, they’re not so bad, the scars. It’s so funny because I see some photos of myself and obviously you’re not always aware when there are cameras, so they can get a really bad shot of you. Then I read some of the comments that are like, “messy Kate,” and I’m like, I know. I actually agree with you, but I don’t look like that in real life. I’ve been caught really rough in some of the photos, and my natural face is kind of a moody one, so I look really miserable.
I mean, Kate can get caught at pretty rough angles too.
Yeah, that used to always make me feel better. Like, I look rough like her! She’s also having a rough day!
Have you ever met her?
No. And I’m not shy, really, but I think she’s the one person who might… I just always think, Am I annoying her? [Laughs.] I’ve met some of her friends and they say it’s just uncanny, down to the mannerisms. One of them especially was so freaked out by it, and sent her little video clips and photos of me. So she must be aware of me—that there’s a “Fake Moss”—but I’m just a lookalike, you know. I hope she’s laughing about it and not angry.
What would you say to her if you did meet?
I’m so sorry!!! [Laughs.] No, I’m kidding. I’d be like, Honestly there’s only one Kate. I’m not trying to fill your shoes.
Is it just recently, or have people always mistaken you for her?
Always. For years and years and years. I’ve always been told I look like her. And I always correct them. Sometimes I do freeze up, like when I was shopping once in Liverpool and this woman yelled “KATE MOSS!” I got so shy and just went, “Uhhh, no.” I didn’t expect it where I live. I think everyone knows there because it’s such a small village. I get it a lot more in city centers. Sometimes I do get caught off guard, or you just know people are filming you or secretly taking pictures. They’ll stare, or they’ll whisper. I’ll walk down the train and hear, Kate Moss, Kate Moss? You hear people say it all the time. But unless someone’s very confident, they don’t say it to my face.
Does being a lookalike ever mess with your identity, especially since you’ve started doing it professionally?
Never. I don’t bring Kate Moss home with me. When I come home, I unpack my suitcase and I go back into mum mode. Like today, I took my two children out to eat and then to arts and crafts. Now I’m doing some housework, and I’m back at the gym tomorrow morning, until the next job comes up. My personal trainer in the gym and the people in the local restaurant where I eat all find it hilarious because I’m always in gym clothes, with a scruffy ponytail and no makeup on. People do often go to me, Can I be honest with you? I thought you were gonna be a bitch. I thought you were going to be so high maintenance. And it’s like, What! I live a double life. I don’t know her life, but I don’t think mine could be further from hers. Nobody’s throwing designer clothes at me, do you know what I mean? [Laughs.] But I’m super happy as I am.
Has this become your primary source of income?
Yeah, because I wasn’t working anyway since I had my second daughter. I used to work in telecommunications, and then I was a bit bored, to be honest. I’m gonna be 40 this year as well, and felt like I was just doing Groundhog Day type of stuff. So I started doing it almost for my own confidence, because you have to go outside of your comfort zone to grow. The best thing is that I’m not a worrier anymore. If people have something negative to say about me, I don’t dwell on it. I don’t panic; I don’t worry. I’m just a really happy person now, and I’ve got a really nice balance. I get to do my own stuff independently, away from my partner and my children, but then I get to be a mum in my everyday life as well. My little darlings are my no. 1 priorities. And they actually don’t care what I do. I try to show them photos, and they’re like, Okay, mummy.
Would you do something like this again?
Yeah. A year ago, it wouldn’t even have crossed my mind. It would have been an adamant no. But as long as people want to book me or use me or spend time with me, I’m happy to do it. Life’s too short—why not? It’s quite funny because I’m not a model but I’ve kind of gone into that now because I get requested to do shoots and things. I wish [Kate] could give me some tips, actually—teach me how to bloody pose. [Laughs.]