In a move with little precedent in the fashion industry, Kate Moss, one of the world's most recognizable models, was dismissed from a planned advertising campaign Tuesday after she admitted to executives she recently used cocaine.
H&M, Europe's largest clothing chain with 78 stores in the United States, had photographed Moss to promote the global introduction of a fashion collection designed by Stella McCartney in November. But a spokeswoman for H&M said the campaign was canceled after Moss told store executives in New York that a report of her drug use in a London newspaper was correct.
"If someone is going to be the face of H&M," the spokeswoman, Jennifer Uglialoro, said, "it is important they be healthy, wholesome and sound."
Moss' earnings have been estimated at $9 million a year., appears in ads for Chanel, Burberry, Christian Dior, Gloria Vanderbilt and H. Stern jewelers, among others.
Speculation in the fashion and modeling industries Tuesday centered on whether these brands would continue to employ her. Executives at several companies, including Burberry and Dior, declined to comment, but others expressed concerns that Moss' acknowledgment of drug use could jeopardize her appearances in their campaigns.
Boyishly thin when she first hit the catwalks in the 1980s, Moss was almost immediately cast in advertising campaigns for Calvin Klein and other major fashion houses, and just as quickly criticized by feminists for her underfed "waif" look and for embodying one of fashion's least admirable moments, the advent of a grimy style termed "heroin chic."
Just as compelling to the public, it seemed, were Moss' off-duty antics — the trashed hotel rooms, the stints in rehabilitation clinics, the affairs with Johnny Depp in his bad-boy incarnation and recently with Pete Doherty, the 26-year-old songwriter and front man for the English rock group Babyshambles, whose spotty resume includes jail time and repeated stays in rehabilitation facilities where he was treated for drug use that he is far from secretive about.
But as multinational corporations came to play a more prominent role in the industry, and the financial stakes grew exponentially, the fashion industry's long-standing tolerance for displays of temperament, eccentric behavior and personal peccadilloes like substance abuse diminished radically. In a new era when even fashion is at pains to demonstrate its sobriety, the antics of stars like Moss seem somehow less amusing.