Lottie Moss: ‘People think I’m lying when I say I’m a model’

Born into modelling’s first family, Lottie Moss was destined to be a fashion superstar. But there’s more to this speed-talking stylista than just her half-sister Kate, says Sophie Heawood.

Lottie Moss
Top, skirt, belt and shoes, Dior. Earrings, Malaika Raiss. Image: Rachell Smith

Lottie Moss, the 21-year-old model and entrepreneur, is telling me just how un-Gen Z – the generation known for shunning booze and big nights out – she can be. ‘I have friends who ask me if I went out last night like it’s a bad thing,’ she says, in a surprisingly deep and slightly posh voice. ‘So I’ll say, “Yes, I had a few drinks and I went to bed at three.” And because everyone’s supposed to be so healthy these days, they’re like [she does an impersonation of someone feigning concern], “Oh my God, I bet you feel so rubbish now!” But do you know what? These are the same people who write “6AM!” on their Instagram posts so you know what time they went to the gym. Bore off.’ She rolls her eyes. ‘What’s wrong with them?’

You could say her predilection for partying runs in the blood. Lottie is the half-sister of supermodel Kate Moss, who at 24 years her senior is still famed for the reputation that she earned in her 90s party days. ‘My sister never apologised for any of what she did,’ she tells me, ‘and when she went out in the 90s, it looked jokes!’ (‘Jokes’, for the over-25s, means something funny or awesome.) ‘The party was where you wanted to be. It was considered a good thing to have fun, but now I feel as though people demonise it. All the stuff my sister used to do in the day, she’d definitely have to apologise for now. Oh my God, it would be a PR disaster,’ Lottie says, whooping with laughter as she turns to the representative from her agency Storm Model Management, who also worked with Kate for years. 

Lottie Moss
Blouse and trousers, VB Victoria Beckham. Earrings, Malaika Raiss. Image: Rachell Smith

‘You’d be picking up stories left, right and centre,’ she says to her. ‘I don’t think you’d know what to do with her now, would you? Because we have the internet and mobile phones, I have to be more careful, but I still go out. I’m young.’ 

There are many similarities between Lottie and her older sibling. She has already established a celebrity circle – although the vibe is more Made in Chelsea (where she lives; many of her friends and an ex-boyfriend have appeared on the show) than Kate’s legendary Primrose Hill set. And she’s racking up impressive fashion credentials, too: her first campaign in 2014 was for Calvin Klein, while she’s walked the catwalk for Chanel and posed for Vogue Paris. 

But whereas Kate remains an enigma by never telling journalists anything about her life, even though her drug use was exposed in the press, Lottie is from a different generation, a talker and sharer (275,000 people follow her every move on Instagram) who never shuts up. But it’s all so warm and vivacious that you can’t help but get swept up in her enthusiasm for life. She makes a point of introducing herself to everyone on our photo shoot, trying all the food and insisting I taste the ‘best guacamole ever.’ There are no airs and graces here.

Lottie Moss
Lottie as a teenager with half-sister Kate. Image: REX/Shutterstock

Lottie, whose full name is Charlotte, grew up near Haywards Heath in Sussex, the daughter of Peter Moss and his second wife Inger, a Norwegian who moved to England in her 20s to work for a Norwegian airline. Peter worked for another airline, based in the same building, where they met. He was more than 20 years older and already had two children, Kate and Nick, with his ex-wife Linda. Inger had also been married before but had no kids, and I get the impression that Lottie has enjoyed quite a different upbringing from her half-siblings, having been privately educated at the rather bohemian Bede’s School in Sussex before she moved to London. More stability, no divorce, no Croydon. 

Unbelievably, her 57-year-old mum is also a part-time model. Lottie clearly adores her parents, and says she and her mum are very similar in that they can get a bit over-excited about things, and love talking about their feelings, whereas her dad is ‘chill level 12. If he was any more chill, he would be dead. He doesn’t mind about anything – although he’s 80 now, so he doesn’t get social media. And when I swear in front of him, my mum just says, “Oh, God.”’ 

She says Peter comes ‘from a generation where you learned to be seen and not heard. He had a lot of problems with that – his mum died at a very young age. My dad has had a lot of sad things happen in his life, but he’s the rock of our family, which can give you a lot of pressure. He’s had to learn to open up about his own problems quite recently, because people talk about mental health now. Although, when I was aged between about ten and 16, there wasn’t any room in the family for his feelings because I was such a nightmare. Me and my mum were always arguing. I was an absolute terror.’

Lottie Moss
Dress, Louis Vuitton. Image: Rachell Smith

Teenage Lottie took to smoking and getting tattoos. ‘My mum would say, “Go on, then, but don’t come crying to me when there’s no money left in your account because you’ve spent it all on cigarettes.” That tough love worked on me. I had friends whose parents were stricter and said no to everything, and they ended up being the worst kids. But my mum was also big on teaching me about respect, and about racism and gay rights. When it came to my sexuality, she said, “I don’t care who you bring home at the end of the day. Whatever makes you happy, you do it, and whoever you want to be with, that’s fine with me” – and it’s so nice to have that.’

Aged 13, Lottie was one of the bridesmaids at Kate’s 2011 wedding to musician Jamie Hince, alongside Kate’s daughter Lila, whom Lottie describes as ‘my niece, but she’s like a little sister. I can’t believe she’s about to turn 17! I remember playing Sylvanian families with her and now she’s a moody teenager. But seriously, she’s still the sweetest girl.’ Mario Testino’s photographs of the wedding were published in Vogue, and Peter Moss soon got a call from Sarah Doukas, the founder of Storm and the woman famed for discovering Kate, to say they now had their eye on his youngest child. I wonder if this was a problem for him, but Lottie insists not. 

‘He was the one who was there with Kate when she was scouted in the airport at 14. She had known Sarah since then and he trusted her. My brother [Nick] used to model for Storm, too, so Sarah was, like, “Honestly, Peter, you should just box up your genes and give them to us.”’

Not that Lottie’s mum, whose Scandinavian looks are evident in her daughter, is entirely happy about being relegated from the story. ‘When I was younger people used to say I looked like my dad. They would say, “Oh Peter, you have such beautiful children” and she’d be going, “I have something to do with this, too!”’ 

Lottie Moss
Jumper and skirt, Christopher Kane. Earrings, Malaika Raiss. Shoes, Jimmy Choo. Image: Rachell Smith

If this sounds immodest, Lottie is quick to stress that she doesn’t think of herself as particularly stunning. ‘I get so embarrassed some days when I say I’m a model. Sometimes I say it to people and I see them going, “Ohhh, right… really?” She motions someone turning away, mistrustfully. ‘Well, they probably don’t actually say that,’ she’s laughing now, ‘but in my head, they do. They think I’m lying.’

Yet not only has she worked for top designers such as Bulgari, Sonia Rykiel and House of Holland, she has also been working on some fashion collections of her own, using pinboards of inspiration images, swatches of her favourite looks and help from designers to put her name to brands. Her main work is currently with PacSun, a US brand with whom she has produced a West Coast-inspired range of clothes. Lottie describes it as a very ‘California girl’ look: sweet and cutesy shorts, tops, floral dresses. It’s aimed at younger adults and teenagers. ‘It’s not too sexy. We wanted people’s parents to be willing to buy it for their kids, so it’s not inappropriate.’

If you follow Lottie’s own looks on social media, you will see she has clearly been more influenced by growing up under Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian’s aesthetics than her sister’s rock ’n’ roll style. Lottie posts photos in sexy, skimpy stuff, though she tells me that she dresses ‘differently all the time. Sometimes I’m quite grungy, sometimes I only wear very girly things. I have alter egos.’ 

During our conversation, she is wearing jogging bottoms and a cropped cardigan top with nothing on underneath, meaning I get a view of bare boobs every time she tips back her head. Plus a good view of the row of birds tattooed beneath her left breast, the design for which she has also used on her Minnetonka moccasin shoe range. ‘I put the same little bird on them, and I’ll wear those shoes to go to the park, walk my dog. They’re very comfortable.’

Lottie Moss
Jumper, Lottie Moss x PacSun. Jeans, PacSun. Shoes, Lottie Moss x Minnetonka

While I’m fighting my old-lady urge to bundle her into some warmer clothes, she swears that she’s like an old grandma herself, at least when it comes to social media. I find this hard to believe, but she insists her flatmates had to talk her through Hinge, a new dating app, while she just stared at the screen, baffled, ‘by how you could get from someone’s profile to messaging them. So complicated. I live with two girlfriends who have to show me this stuff. I have a lot of older friends and it’s weird, because I’m the youngest in the house but I’m the one who doesn’t get it.’

Lottie becomes really impassioned when she talks about the modelling industry, how it treats people, the dieting issues. (She adores Ashley Graham, a curvy model, ‘so beautiful’.) She is planning to do a panel talk with Leanne Maskell, a British former model and author of The Model Manifesto: An A-Z Anti-Exploitation Manual for the Fashion Industry. She saw Leanne’s book – which addresses many issues that models face, including sexual exploitation, financial abuse and the pressure to lose weight – and started reading it. ‘I thought, this is incredible. If only some models had had this 20 years ago, things would be different. So I messaged her and went on her podcast (The Model Manifesto), and she and I have even been talking about trying to get some restrictions in place, some new laws passed. Because there might be a lot more talk about body positivity now, but how crazy is it that very little in the industry has actually changed? I’ve still got friends whose agents tell them they’re fat.’

Lottie Moss
Blouse, VB Victoria Beckham. Earrings, Malaika Raiss. Image: Rachell Smith

Lottie is adamant that modelling should be a great career with positive associations. ‘I feel like when a lot of people think about modelling, they think you’re dumb, you’re anorexic. I love my job and I’ve never had any problems, never had any eating disorders or anything like that.’ She pauses to think. ‘I have, at times, become skinny to the point where I thought maybe I should start eating a bit more. And I’ve put on weight as well, to the point where I thought, “OK, maybe I shouldn’t.” But you don’t have to be stick thin to be a model any more. That was 30 years ago. I’m not stick thin. Now, if you are empowering and you have a great personality, you can literally do whatever you want – though you do have to train and you have to work hard.’ 

I have to ask the inevitable question – did Kate encourage her to be a model? She insists that, no, nobody ever tells her what to do, but the inspiration was clearly there from the start. ‘When I was little I really thought that everyone had a sister in a magazine. My mum used to buy them and go, “Oh, look! It’s Kate!” And I’d be, like, “OK?” She does a blank face. “I know what she looks like – you don’t have to show me a picture!” Then other people would say, “What, that’s your sister in the magazine?” And I’d say, “Yes, which page is your sister on?” I never look at her and think, that’s Kate Moss.’ 

She eventually started realising ‘something was up when we’d go to my niece’s birthday parties and 30 paparazzi would be gathered outside the restaurant. I have never seen anything like it, all those cameras flashing – it could have given someone an epilepsy attack. They used to push me out of the way to get to Kate. Even the children – they would shove everyone to get to her. It was insane.’ 

Lottie Moss
Dress, Miu Miu, from mytheresa.com. Earrings, Monica Vinader. Ring, Misho. Image: Rachell Smith

As for the future, Lottie’s mum is gutted, because her former tearaway daughter turned best pal is moving to Los Angeles. ‘London is my favourite place in the world, but I love LA, too, and I can’t wear half the clothes I’m promoting with PacSun over here because of the weather!’

She hopes to focus on business: ‘I want to be successful. I want to build a life and look back in 20, 30 years and be proud of what I achieved. I want to have money. Not in a horrible way, but I want to be set up. I want my children to be set up.’ She decided not to go to university, after looking through degree courses and realising ‘there wasn’t a single subject I wanted to do’. 

I could see her as a talk-show host – or maybe she’s going to LA to try acting? Is that a blush I see on her face? ‘Well,’ she says, ‘that’s what I want to start doing, but we’ll see what happens. I’ll start by going to acting classes. But I am a massive talker. I literally cannot stop.’

Get Lottie’s look at pacsun.com/lottie-moss and minnetonkamoccasin.com/gb/blog/lottie-moss-lookbook. Follow her on Instagram @lottiemossxo