Kate Moss's topless Calvin Klein underwear ad with Mark Wahlberg may be an iconic image in fashion history, but the supermodel revealed that behind the scenes it was a very scarring experience for the then teenager.
Moss made an appearance on Sunday's episode of the BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs, during which she revealed to host Lauren Laverne that she has “not very good memories” of that whole experience. When asked about working with Wahlberg, she recalled, “He was very macho, and it was all about him. He had a big entourage. I was just this kind of model.” Moss was just 17 years old during the 1992 shoot for which she posed topless, and in some photos was made to press her torso against Wahlberg's.
Laverne asked whether Moss felt objectified during the shoot, to which she replied, “Yeah, completely. And vulnerable and scared.” She added, “I think they played on my vulnerability. I was quite young and innocent, so Calvin loved that.” She went on to explain that in the lead-up to that shoot she remembers feeling “severe anxiety,” which led to a doctor prescribing her Valium. Moss said, “I really didn't feel well at all before the shoot. For like, a week or two, I couldn't get out of bed.”
In 2012 the supermodel also spoke about the fraught campaign that launched her to fame, telling Vanity Fair, “I had a nervous breakdown when I was 17 or 18, when I had to go and work with Marky Mark and Herb Ritts. It didn’t feel like me at all. I felt really bad about straddling this buff guy. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t get out of bed for two weeks. I thought I was going to die. I went to the doctor, and he said, ‘I’ll give you some Valium,’ and Francesca Sorrenti, thank God, said, ‘You’re not taking that.’ It was just anxiety. Nobody takes care of you mentally. There’s a massive pressure to do what you have to do. I was really little, and I was going to work with Steven Meisel. It was just really weird—a stretch limo coming to pick you up from work. I didn’t like it. But it was work, and I had to do it.”
She added, “I see a 16-year-old now, and to ask her to take her clothes off would feel really weird. But they were like, ‘If you don’t do it, then we’re not going to book you again.’ So I’d lock myself in the toilet and cry and then come out and do it. I never felt very comfortable about it.”
In 2020 The Guardian asked Wahlberg whether he had “ever made up” with Moss following that shoot. “I never really had a problem with Kate, did I?” he replied. “I think I was probably a little rough around the edges. Kind of doing my thing. I wasn't very…worldly, let's say that. But I've seen her and said hello. I think we saw each other at a concert here and there, we said hi and exchanged pleasantries.”