The supermodel was invited to choose pieces from the Museo de la Moda’s extensive fashion archives in Chile for a new book. Here, she shares the story behind the project
Set amid meticulously groomed parkland on the wealthy north-east side of Santiago, Chile, lies a vast, glass-walled Modernist home in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright. Or, at least, it was a home: built in 1962 for the Yarur family – owners of what was then the largest textile company in South America – it has since become the Museo de la Moda, established by Jorge Yarur Bascuñán, grandson of the company’s founder, in 1999. Meaning, simply, ‘fashion museum’, it is likely the most important and comprehensive private fashion museum in the world, numbering over 10,000 pieces – and it is just as likely that you’ve never heard of it.
Such is the purpose of a new Rizzoli-published book, Museo de la Moda: Musings on Fashion & Style, a glossy tome which spotlights the many jewels of the collection, spanning centuries and numbering pieces from fashion’s great houses – Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Dior, Jean Patou, Pierre Cardin and Vionnet among them. “There was a certain frustration in the awareness that all these extraordinary riches could be enjoyed only by visitors to the exhibitions mounted in situ at the museum,” writes Lydia Kamitsis, the museum’s curator-at-large in the introduction. The idea of the book, she says, is to bring the museum out in to the world.
And who better to do so than the inimitable, era-defining model Kate Moss, whose face is recognised the world over? Moss was drafted in by Yarur Bascuñán to be the book’s editor, and not without reason: she is not only is inextricably linked with the last three decades of fashion, but also a prolific collector of vintage clothing, well aware of the seductive appeal of a one-of-a-kind garment when faced with the flashbulbs of the world. In the book itself, she is tasked with organising the collection into the various ‘trends’ which have influenced her personal style – ‘Swinging London’, ‘Floral’, ‘Glitter’ and ‘Flapper’ are some of the chapters.
“I had visited the Museo in April 2018; Jorge invited me to open an exhibition,” Moss tells AnOther via email. “I hadn’t known of it before but some friends had so I was keen to see it for myself. It was then we discussed ideas of how we could collaborate together and I returned to go into the archives to edit the pieces we would include in the book.” This process is documented in Museo de la Moda via a series of photographs of Moss uncovering the various treasures hidden within: in one, she peels back tissue paper (wearing white gloves) to reveal a delicately beaded gown, or drawers of crystallised satin shoes; in another, she tries on a 1950 Ben-Ben veil, studded with golden bugs.
Moss’ love of vintage clothing began young. “I first started buying second-hand clothes in my early teens from jumble sales and charity shops; I couldn’t afford designer clothes and didn’t really like what the high street had to offer, so I started sourcing vintage pieces instead,” she says. Interspersed among photographs of the museum’s collections are portraits of Moss, wearing clothing from her own wardrobe. Some are posed – a 1998 series by Juergen Teller appears throughout – others are paparazzi photographs of her attending various weddings, parties and openings in the 90s and early 00s.
Asked if they make her nostalgic, she says, “Yes of course, looking at old pictures always takes me back to the occasion and sparks memories I had forgotten about. The process made me aware of how young I really was wearing pieces which at the time I didn’t know had such a historical significance. I just wore them because I loved them.” Now, the house she most often returns to is Yves Saint Laurent; the piece, a Marc Bolan satin bolero, which “comes out at every party!” For the budding collector, she suggests Rellik in London (“I have been buying pieces from Steven [Phillip] for ever”), Didier Ludot in Paris, and Resurrection in New York. And her advice for a woman getting dressed in the morning? “Dress for yourself, feel confident in what you wear, that’s all that matters.”
But outside of her envious collection, over years of buying vintages pieces, is there one that got away? “AN ELIZABETH TAYLOR KAFTAN,” she replies, emphatically.
Museo de la Moda: Musings on Fashion & Style, edited by Kate Moss, is out October 15, 2019.