At home with Kate Moss

A dell peo­pled by par­tially clad sprites climb­ing trees and in­dulging in deca­dent loung­ing? Of course! It’s Kate Moss and her band of mod­els in her Cotswolds gar­den, show­ing off the new jew­ellery range she’s de­signed with Ara Var­ta­nian. By Sarah Royce-gre

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - CONTENTS -

In her Cotswolds gar­den, the su­per­model cel­e­brates her new jew­ellery col­lab­o­ra­tion. Sarah Royce-green­sill chats to her

There’s a cer­tain amount of fret­ful­ness in an­tic­i­pa­tion of an in­ter­view with Kate Moss. Will she make it out of bed in time for our call? Will the model known for her ‘never complain, never ex­plain’ stance be to­tally mono­syl­labic? As it turns out, once Moss hits on a topic she’s pas­sion­ate about – in this case, jew­eller y – she be­comes an­i­mated, even gush­ing.

She’s a lso sur pr isingly knowl­edge­able. ‘I’ve got a new favourite gem­stone but I’m not telling you what it is be­cause you’ll go and buy it. You know what it’s like, all of a sud­den t here’ll be none lef t,’ she says. ‘It’s re­ally ra re – like t hose Paraiba tour­ma­lines that come from this one cave left in the world and there are no more com­ing out of it. Don’t tell ev­ery­one! They’re like trea­sure.’

Moss has al­ways been ob­sessed with jew­ellery, she goes on. ‘I’m like a mag­pie with shiny things; I can’t walk past a jew­ellery shop with­out see­ing some­thing I love. Even at Christ­mas when I was about eight, I would look for the small­est box and hope there was a ring or a neck­lace in it.’

Her love for prop­erly pre­cious trea­sure, how­ever, didn’t come un­til later. ‘We didn’t re­ally have that much jew­ellery in Croy­don,’ she dead­pans. ‘It was the time when Madonna was wear­ing all th­ese black plas­tic things; it wasn’t real jew­ellery. When I sta r ted hang ing out wit h Naomi [Camp­bell] and Christy [Turl­ing ton] they would go to jew­eller y shops, and they took me to one in Ire­land where I bought my­self my first proper piece: a sil­ver watch chain t hat I loved be­cause it re­minded me of some­thing Sid Vi­cious would wear.’

Her in­ter­est in the more un­usual cor­ners of the jew­eller y world may ex pla in why she ‘clicked straight away’ with Brazil­ian jew­eller Ara Var­ta­nian, whom she met in São Paulo in 2012 and with whom she has col­lab­o­rated on a new lim­ited-edi­tion fine-jew­ellery range. Moss is cur­rently stay­ing with Var­ta­nian, so we talk on a dodgy Skype con­nec­tion.

A for­mer gem­stone buyer from a fam­ily of jew­ellers, Var­ta­nian spe­cialises in bold, one-of-a-kind pieces fea­tur­ing rare coloured gem­stones. Moss had fallen in love with a tan­zan­ite ring at his bou­tique in São Paulo but it didn’t fit, so he in­vited her to his show­room to choose a stone for a cus­tom­made ver­sion.

‘I showed Kate eight stones and told her, this is the best colour, this is the best clar­ity, and she just went, “This one,”’ re­calls Var­ta­nian. ‘It didn’t mat­ter what I said about the qual­ity, she looked at one and went, “That’s it.” It was very nat­u­ral.’

Moss be­came a reg­u­lar cus­tomer, also buy­ing a siz­able emer­ald and di­a­mond bracelet t hat she ‘couldn’t leave t he store wit hout’, a nd t he t wo be­came close. ‘He’s a re­ally good friend: we go on hol­i­day to­gether, we see each other when he’s in Lon­don, I’m god­mother to his daugh­ter,’ she says.

Af­ter throw­ing a din­ner party to in­tro­duce the jew­eller to her friends, she con­vinced him to open a store in Lon­don, which he did last June: a se­cluded man-cave of vin­tage Brazil­ian fur­ni­ture in May­fair, com­plete with a curv­ing, cor­ru­gated con­crete wall, a retro record player and a se­lec­tion of whisky. It’s a far cr y f rom t he pas­tel-toned, or­chid-filled jew­ellery bou­tiques on nearby Bond Street.

His work, too, is far from clas­sic. ‘Hook’ ear­rings seem­ingly crawl out from in­side the ear; laugh­ably large gem­stones are sus­pended be­tween in­verted di­a­monds in cock­tail rings that span two or three fin­gers; satiny-gold chok­ers sen­su­ally brush stones against the clav­i­cle. ‘It’s clever the way Ara does ex­trav­a­gant jewels but makes them look mod­ern. He twists it up so you don’t look like an old lady wear­ing big di­a­monds; you can ac­tu­ally wear big di­a­monds and look cool,’ says Moss. The rock’n’roll edge to his de­signs struck a chord with her, and a col­lab­o­ra­tion was clearly on the cards.

The pair sought in­spi­ra­tion from ob­jects in the dress­ing room at her Cotswolds home, such as the pat­terns on a Rus­sian cig­a­rette box from the 1920s and de­tails from her an­tique jew­ellery – com­bin­ing them with mo­tifs from Var­ta­nian’s ex­ist­ing de­signs. A cir­cu­lar amulet pendant he wore, set with black di­a­monds and amethysts, sparked Moss’s imag­i­na­tion. ‘I loved it and he said, “Have it,”’ says Moss. ‘He gave me his and then made an­other one. I’m ter­ri­ble, aren’t I?’ A pre­vi­ous ver­sion had been nabbed by the Rolling Stone Ron­nie Wood, who was also at­tracted to its mys­ti­cal prop­er­ties.

‘Kate re­ally liked the aes­thet­ics of it and the fact that it’s for pro­tec­tion, and she said let’s do some­thing like that to­gether,’ re­calls Var­ta­nian.

‘I was a bit more ex­cited than that,’ in­ter­jects Moss. ‘I said, I love that, let’s do more like that – that you can wear every day that means some­thing and has good en­ergy. It makes you feel very spe­cial.’

The re­sult­ing col­lec­tion has a dis­tinctly spir­i­tual, slightly hip­pie bent. As well as the shield-like man­dala pen­dants (a riff on the an­cient Hindu and Bud­dhist sym­bol) strung on to leather cords and punc­tu­ated with in­verted di­a­monds, ru­bies and amethysts, there are chains hung with the St Ge­orge’s dag­ger on

one end and the an­cient pro­tec­tive ‘evil eye’ mo­tif on the other; cres­cent moons picked out in black di­a­monds and mother-of-pearl; and enor­mous sin­gle ear­rings of tex­tured gold, de­signed to be mixed and matched with in­verted-gem­stone studs, or tiny hoops from which dan­gle crys­tals of amethyst, onyx or smoky quartz. ‘No­body wears pairs of ear­rings any more; it’s old-fash­ioned,’ says Moss. ‘I like to throw it on, mix and match ear­rings. It’s cooler when it’s not styled so much.’

At first glance it could be cos­tume jew­eller y. It’s only on closer in­spec­tion of the brushed gold of a pinky ring, set with a bul­bous, iri­des­cent moon­stone, or the del­i­cate lines of pavé di­a­monds fram­ing the edges of a rhom­bus-shaped ring that you can ap­pre­ci­ate the qual­ity, with every piece hand­made in Var­ta­nian’s Brazil­ian ate­lier.

‘Ba­si­cally, I wanted to do jew­eller y that I can wear ever y day,’ Moss says. ‘My emer­ald and di­a­mond bracelet isn’t some­thing I can wear ca­su­ally, whereas this col­lec­tion still has all the stones and the crafts­man­ship and ever y thing that Ara does so well, but in a more in­for­mal way.’

Moss is also a fan of un­der­dog gem­stones. ‘I love a di­a­mond, ob­vi­ously,’ she says, ‘but I’m not re­ally one for your tra­di­tional white bling. I love the coloured stones – amethyst and cit­rine and gar­net–be­cause I find them more or­ganic. I feel like they’re a bit more – I don’t know – spir­i­tual; there’s some­thing earthy about them.’

It’s not the first time Moss has turned her hand to jew­ellery de­sign. In 2011 she col­lab­o­rated with Parisian jew­eller Fred on a range of stack­ing rings and del­i­cate pen­dants adorned with an­chors and hearts, in­spired by her tat­toos. ‘[The col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ara] is com­pletely dif­fer­ent be­cause I’m ac­tu­ally in­volved with the per­son that’s mak­ing it,’ she says.

In the Ara Var­ta­nian cam­paign, she ap­pears along­side four mod­els signed to her newly launched epony­mous mod­el­ling agency. Shot at her Cots wolds home, the ethe­real im­ages de­pict long-haired boys and girls loung­ing in trees, cud­dled up in a gypsy car­a­van, frol­ick­ing on as wing. All of them are ac­ces­sorised to the hilt: rings on every fin­ger, wrists loaded with leather cords, chests draped with pen­dants.

‘I wanted them all to meet; they hadn’t met each other be­fore. There are only four mod­els on my books so far and they all worked to­gether so well.’ They were lucky on the day, with un­sea­son­ably good weather. ‘We were blessed; it was a mag­i­cal day. Some things just fall into place.’

Most of the pieces are uni­sex, but they are a far cry from tra­di­tional no­tions of men’s jew­ellery. ‘Peo­ple think it is all about sov­er­eign rings and big gold chains for rappers,’ says Moss, ‘but I love wear­ing the things that men would wear back in the day. That watch chain that I bought years ago was for men. Ev­ery­thing kind of goes both ways now, doesn’t it?’ Her boyfriend, the aris­to­cratic pho­tog­ra­pher Niko­lai von Bismarck, wears one of V ar­tan ian’ s dag­ger pen­dants, but there’ s no chance of him rum­mag­ing around her jew­ellery col­lect ion. ‘I can steal his jew­eller y; he doesn’t steal mine.’

Her daugh­ter, Lila Grace ,14, who re­cently launched her own mod­el­ling ca­reer with a cam­paign for a braid bar, is also a fan of jew­ellery, but cer­tain parts of her mother’ s col­lec­tion are off lim­its. ‘She does love jew­eller y, but wear­ing my an­tique pieces? No.’

For Var­ta­nian, a diminu­tive, softly spo­ken man whose day-to-day wardrobe con­sists of black skinny jeans and leather jack­ets, and whose São Paulo lair also houses his col­lec­tion of vin­tage cars and mo­tor­bikes, col­lab­o­rat­ing with Moss was writ­ten in the stars. ‘I be­lieve that you have some call­ings in life – it nat­u­rally brings you to th­ese places,’ he says. ‘For us to do a col­lab­o­ra­tion is amaz­ing. It’s like a tat­too; it is marked for­ever. There are re­ally both of us in the col­lec­tion; it’s very authen­tic.’

With prices star ting at £1,550, this col­lab­o­ra­tion will drive a new au­di­ence to Var­ta­nian’s bou­tique, where the pieces cur­rently on dis­play carry five- and six-fig­ure price tags.

‘I wanted it to be so that more peo­ple can go to the shop and ac­tu­ally buy some­thing, and see all the other amaz­ing things,’ says Moss. ‘I want ev­ery­one to know about Ara. But he’s al­ways go­ing to put bits aside for me. Oth­er­wise I’ll kill him!’

He’d bet­ter be putting as ideas much of that se­cret, favourite gem­stone he can find. If not, she has de­signs on gem­stone hunt­ing with him. ‘I was like, can you take me to Sri Lanka or wher­ever you go and pick­axe some gem­stones out from the caves? Oh my God, I would love that.’

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