Puttin’ on the Ritz: A Paris Fashion Show for Kate Moss’s Collaboration With Messika

When Kate Moss was a teenager, she bought a pair of gold and emerald earrings

When Kate Moss was a teenager, she bought a pair of gold and emerald earrings from Pennisi, the antique Milanese jeweler. It’s a surprisingly storied hang-out for a young Brit from Croydon—but then again, this is a young Brit who was, at the time, dating Johnny Depp. “Johnny bought me a string of diamonds when I was 19,” she recalls, “and I was so nervous about taking it off and losing it, I just wore it all the time—with jeans. I just loved it.”

Suffice to say: Kate Moss knows jewelry. Still girlish at 47, her excitement at collaborating with Messika, the luxury Parisian house that put wearable diamonds on the map, is palpable when we meet before the catwalk show that will serve to showcase her ongoing collaboration with the label. Decked out in ’90s Saint Laurent leopard print and a healthy frosting of diamonds, she seems genuinely thrilled to be on schedule at Paris Fashion Week, showing in the gardens of the Ritz, her favorite hotel when in town. “I love jewelry, I’ve got a passion for it,” she says, earnestly. “If I meet a woman and she’s got a lot of jewelry on, I can’t help but say, I’m so sorry, but can I see your jewelry? I really appreciate it.”

Moss hit it off with Valérie Messika, the daughter of a prominent diamond dealer and founder of the house, when they met on a campaign shoot for the company several years ago. “It was obvious from the start that she knew a lot about jewelry,” says Valérie. “She invited me to London to see her jewelry box, it was a mix of very high-end pieces and more affordable. I said to her, let’s do a collaboration. Let’s open many different doors. We had a lot of freedom, a lot of fun. She brought to me vintage style, more traditional jewelry, and I interpreted it in a very modern way. That mix makes something cool and it embodies Messika values.” In 2020, they collaborated on a 70-piece collection; this 2021 offering is a continuation of that initial range. “That whole thing about wearing diamonds every day, it’s comfortable and it’s easy— but it’s expensive,” Moss breathes, when I ask what she likes about Messika’s approach.

The model was heavily involved in the designs in the collection, which contains numerous Art Deco references— favorite decade for her—and Indian-inspired styles. “Jade Jagger is a friend of mine, and when we were young and she was doing jewelry, a long time ago, she would get jewels from India and we would just put them on our fingers,” Kate recalls. “She made me an emerald ring which I still wear. I kind of like playing with jewels, but I’ve never really designed it before.”

The stand-outs are the head-pieces, designed to be worn with nonchalance. “I had one [with me] on holiday when I was in Ibiza,” Kate recalls. “My daughter was by the pool in her bikini and she put it on and I was like, oh my God, that’s so genius—that’s how it should be worn.” Like Liz Taylor swimming in her ruby and diamond suite? “Exactly. Actually, I have a pair of Liz Taylor’s paste earrings,” she enthuses. “I got them at Bentley & Skinner. She had a serious jewelry collection,” she sighs, appreciatively. Who will inherit Moss’s? “Lila, my daughter,” she says. “But don’t tell her.”

Later that evening, we witness the catwalk show, where XXL earrings and 1920s-style rings are paired with slinky Alexandre Vauthier evening dresses and high-waisted satin pants that serve to show off the 17-carat pear-cut colorless diamonds as well as malachite, turquoise, and mother of pearl—a new addition for Valérie Messika, who once promised her father she would stick to diamonds, but made an exception for Moss.

She also made an exception when it came to a catwalk show, something the brand has never attempted before. Moss felt it was important to show the jewels on a catwalk because, as she puts it: “I think it’s showing how jewelry is part of the look—it’s like when people started putting bags on the runway. You know, Vuitton, Versace, there’s always a bag. For me, jewelry is a massive part of putting together a look.” You can presume that the supermodel was therefore preoccupied deciding which diamonds to pair with her emerald silk gown and feather stole for the evening’s festivities—because as Messika took her bow, she looked around and asked the catwalk, ‘Where is Kate?’ The model had been watching from the photographers’ pit, fashionably late. But as Valérie had pointed out earlier: “Kate embodies freedom, for me.” Who can be bothered with a front-row seat?