Lessons from Kate Moss


Luxury is an artform. And like all great artforms, the ultimate state it can achieve is timelessness. Timeless brands and timeless pieces that ascend the seasonal churn and live on an eternal plain. Rise above new technologies, trends and fads, audiences, moments, and markets. Chanel. The Birkin bag. Icons. Almost mythical.

It’s a way of framing the world that feels strangely fresh in an era of high-frequency campaigns that at best dominate the headlines for a day. Thinking about marketing in terms of achieving timelessness opens up new ways of conceiving, creating, and evaluating, and we think it’s a framing that’s timely. It fits the  slower, quieter mood emerging in luxury communications.

But what does that mean for the way we manage brands? Kate Moss – undoubtedly an icon – can help us.

Last weekend, she gave an interview with How To Spend It (the Financial Times’ weekend lifestyle supplement). In it, the author enumerates the twists and turns of Moss’ personal and professional life – the breadth of brands she’s worked with from every luxury house to Diet Coke, the partners she’s loved and lost, the headlines she’s generated, the brand she’s launching. She’s a chameleon, responding to the opportunities and challenges that arise before her as any human would.

So what sets her apart as an icon?

“I want to be in control… I don’t really want to just turn up and be the face… I want to be able to create something.”

And that’s what sets her apart. Control. A steadfast commitment to a core. Moss has been anchored to her trademark elegance – authentic, mysterious – despite moving with the ebb and flow of the cultural tides. Not an anonymous face that appears where it’s asked to, but a person in control and influencing the contexts in which she appears.

What Moss shows us is that timelessness is a paradox. It requires a solid, non-negotiable core that must never get forgotten or diluted. But it also requires change on pain of its subjects becoming obsolete, existing only in an archive.

To us luxury communications people, she shows us that the tension between consistency and change is something to view as an opportunity. Two notes that, struck together, can create timeless chords that elevate brands to a higher level. One that can’t be measured in terms of quarterly sales or engagement metrics. But in terms of their timeless value in culture, and their timeless value to their owners.