Sad truth behind iconic topless photo
In the early '90s the "Supers" ruled. Tall, athletic and stunning, the retinue of women who ruled the catwalks and glossy magazine covers (and famously never got out of bed for less than $US10,000) all shared a similar physique.
In 1990, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista famously strutted down the Versace runway lip synching to George Michael's Freedom and instantly created an indelible moment in fashion history.
And then, a new girl appeared. In 1988, Sarah Doukas from London's Storm modelling agency was flying from New York back to the UK when she spied a 14-year-old girl at JFK airport. Comparatively short to be a model - she stands only 170cm - she was a gamine, elfish figure with an ethereal beauty. And like that, Kate Moss found her way from suburban Croydon to the bright lights of Paris and Milan, where she soon became the model du jour for designers.
However, the ad campaign that rocketed her to international stardom involved very few clothes. Shot in black and white, the TV and print ads showed the teenager topless, wearing only Calvin Klein underwear and jeans seductively wrapped around hip-hop star Marky Mark (or as we know him now, Mark Wahlberg).
They immediately caused a sensation and launched Moss' career into the stratosphere. Looking back recently at the iconic campaign, Moss said simply "that's when everything changed".
While the campaign immediately became iconic, only in recent years has Moss revealed the huge toll that photographing the series had on her.
BROOKE SHIELDS CONTROVERSY
By the 1980s, designer Calvin Klein revolutionised fashion by creating the designer jeans and underwear market. He savvily turned everyday clothing items into must-have goodies that people were willing to shell out big bucks to own.
Key to that were Klein's advertising campaigns and the very first is, still to this day, controversial.
In 1980, Klein was working on a new concept: "Right from the beginning, we knew that the person we were talking about had to be childlike, and that it had to be some kind of actress," he said.
The answer was up-and-coming star Brooke Shields.
At the time, Shields was 15. One ad shows her struggling to get into a pair of jeans and then lolling seductively on the floor. In another, she whistles while the camera pans up her jean-clad legs before she looks straight down the barrel and says, "You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing."
The ads immediately caused a stir and became front-page news after the 26-second spots were banned by major TV networks for insinuating that the teenage Shields was not wearing any underwear.
Klein had created a winning concept.
'KEEP YOUR CALVINS ON'
By the time the '90s rolled around, it was time to reboot the concept for a new decade. Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch had exploded onto the music scene. Moss was starting to make a name for herself. Klein's marketing savvy paired the unlikely duo for what would become an even more famous iteration.
In the TV spots, Mark talks to the camera while Moss moves around him, her back to the camera. "They fit good and they hold me snug, if I'm about to go get some skins, I'm not about to put on no like silk underwear," Mark says. Then, as Moss covers her breasts with her arms and Mark has his hands on her hips, he looks at the camera and says, "Oh she got freckles …"
In between grabbing the crotch of his jeans he comments, makes a grunting noise as the camera lingers on his underpants. Towards the end, while the camera shows Mark with his hands on Moss' bottom, his voice-over says, "The best protection against AIDS is to keep your Calvins on."
As Moss walks around him, still covering her breasts, he points at her and says, "Now that (Moss) could definitely come between me and my Calvins."
The last line, heard over a screen with a logo on it and seemingly directed at Moss, is, "Do you have Calvin Klein underwear on?"
Even by today's standards, the ads are provocative and unapologetically sexual.
However, for Moss, the shoot was traumatic.
'HE WAS SUCH A D**KHEAD'
In 2017, she revealed that she had been "Really nervous. Especially the shoot with Marky Mark, it was so intimidating."
In a conversation with writer Glen O'Brien, Moss admitted that "I was such a nervous wreck" during the Calvin Klein shoot. "At the time he [Mark] was such a d**khead. He wasn't very nice."
"I mean she's beautiful - she's a very pretty nephew - but I'm more into curvy women."
Klein too in recent years has opened up about what went on behind the scenes.
In 2013 he said of the campaign "I didn't want anyone else. But he [Mark] was trouble … He and Kate couldn't stand each other."
Moss has, in recent years, admitted that she regretted doing the iconic shoot.
"I had a nervous breakdown when I was 17 or 18, when I had to go and work with Marky Mark and Herb Ritts," she has told Vanity Fair. "It didn't feel like me at all. I felt really bad about straddling this buff guy. I didn't like it. I couldn't get out of bed for two weeks. I thought I was going to die.
"I went to the doctor, and he said, 'I'll give you some Valium,' and Francesca Sorrenti [her boyfriend's mother], thank God, said, 'You're not taking that.' It was just anxiety. Nobody takes care of you mentally.
"There's a massive pressure to do what you have to do."
Nearly 30 years on from that infamous shoot, Moss says she still struggles when asked to strip off: "Since I was 14 they have always gotten me to take my clothes off, even though I didn't like my body at all, I just had to get comfortable with it, 'cause they always, still always, they ask me to take my clothes off, I have no idea why, I really don't get it at all."
Daniela Elser is a freelance writer.