Petronella Wyatt

Over the hill

The ongoing escapades of London's answer to Ally McBeal

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The French have always enjoyed delivering snubs to les rosbifs. But now they have gone a step trop far. All red-blooded Englishmen, and loyal Englishwomen, should be inflamed this week by their shocking insult to our greatest rose anglaise, Miss Kate Moss.

Miss Moss, the nation’s greatest natural product, has been dumped by Chanel as the face of its Coco Mademoiselle scent. The speculation in the fashion world is that Miss Moss’s motherhood and ‘partying lifestyle’ are partly responsible, but more still claim it is her advanced age of 30.

Chanel, apparently, wants to replace her with an actress of whom I have barely heard — Scarlett Johansson, who is 19. But Miss Johansson is under something called exclusive contract to another fashion house, Calvin Klein. Is this revenge for our support for Mr Bush and the Gulf war? Miss Johansson makes films in Hollywood, but her family surely hails from Europe — probably one of those countries which supported the French line, on foreign policy, not hems.

Surely Miss Moss is not too old? Estée Lauder seems happy enough to retain Elizabeth Hurley, who is 39, but, tellingly, the cosmetics company is American, and thus, theoretically, part of the ‘special relationship’. I can see no other motive but pure anti-Britishness. Unless, of course, fashion pundits are actually speaking the truth. That is, Miss Moss is really considered over the hill. This would be even worse — for this would count as anti-womanish.

Indeed, the machinations of the fashion world would not be exactly head-turning, gasp-for-breath reading were it not for its illustrating the extraordinary paradox underlying modern society’s attitude towards women.

I vaguely recall, some years ago, the fury of Miss Isabella Rossellini when she was sacked by Lanc