Over the last 12 months, Garbage's Shirley Manson has posed for Calvin Klein, turned down 'Playboy' and hung out with Brad Pitt. It's a far cry from the teenage "weirdo" who was bullied by her school mates and once wore a Bo Beep outfit with the breasts cut out…

Calvin Klein will launch his autumn collection this year via a series of advertisements featuring Placebo's Brian Molko, Hole's Melissa Auf der Maur, Orgy, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and Garbage's Shirley Manson. The latter is arguably the most famous and certainly the most striking personality on the list. For Shirley, the campaign is notable for two reasons: she got to work with a world famous fashion photographer, and in it she will appear in public without make-up for the first time since she was knee high with a grouse. "You'll have to bear it yourself to find out what I look like," she cackles in a brogue as thick as Scotch mist.

Today, Shirley Manson is sat in spacious Kensington hotel room to talk about her style and much more besides. She looks the part in her shocking pink top, black leather T-shirt and blue combat trousers. Her most disarming feature is her laugh. It explodes out of her, making a sound not unlike one you'd imagine a bull elephant on heat would make. She laughs often and unexpectedly, as if whatever is going through her mind bears no relation to what she's just said. She will fill up two hours with talk of topless modelling, naked Hollywood parties and furious masturbation.

Shirley Manson was born 32 years ago in Edinburgh to a geneticist father and a housewife mother. The middle of three sisters, she grew up in a three-storey Victorian house and had a "lovely" home life. "I didn't leave home until I was 25," she says. "My boyfriend thought it was really, really creepy. But I had an amazing room with a balcony. I had my own kitchen and bathroom, so I had a lot of independence. I became terribly depressed when I moved out of my parents' beautiful home into relative squalor."

What was your first fashion disaster?

"When I was 12, my girlfriend and I went out shopping to Top Shop and bought little T-shirts, gypsy skirts, sandals and towelling ankle socks, and elasticated satin bow ties. We were them all at once, and I've never witnessed a more terrifying sight."

Did you borrow your sisters' clothes?

"I was never interested in the older sister's clothes and she never interested in mine, but there was a blurring of the edges between me and my little sister. My little sister had great style and I was always envious of the things she had, so I kept stealing them. I don't think she wanted my gypsy skirt."

What was school like?

"Miserable. I loved primary school. Then I got to secondary school and was brutally bullied in my first year. I never recovered from that."

What were you wearing as a teenager?

"Very, very short skirts and boob tubes. I was what the school dubbed a weirdo. I had some kind of notion of style, but it was at odds with everybody else's. But then I've spent my whole life like that, so it was a good training ground. I freaked out the boys in my year. Nobody ever asked me to dance at the school disco."

Can you recall your first kiss?

"Yup. I got to kiss the boy at school that everybody wanted to kiss. I was never forgiven for it either. His name was Simon Paul Jones and he actually turned out to be the guitarist in a band called Hipsway. He was the only boy I ever kissed at school. It was probably because he was so drunk and he didn't realise. I'd wanted to kiss him for so long… I just pushed myself forward and got what I wanted (gale-force laugh)."

When she left school at 16, Shirley went to work in Miss Selfridges. She also started modelling for teenage magazines and art classes. "I enjoyed the art classes because it was performing art in a way," she recalls. "And it was always outrageous clothes - like see-through wedding dresses. I remember wearing a Little Bo Beep outfit that had the breasts cut out of it - so my breasts stuck out - which was really cute and funny.

But the magazine work was horrendous. I always got asked to model because people liked the way I looked when I made myself up. Because I'm a funny looking girl, the minute you take away my style I look really ugly and weird. They never knew how to reconstruct me, so I always ended up looking foul."

In her 20s, Shirley joined her first band - a pop group called Goodbye Mr McKenzie whose one hit, 'The Rattler', peaked at Number 3 in March 1989. It wasn't a pleasant experience - "I have only very recently finally laid it to rest," she says. When the band split, she signed on the dole. I sold my record collection to buy a pair of shoes and all that crap," she says. "But I was never very comfortable doing it - I always wanted to work." She worked next in a band called Angelfish. Their video was played on MTV once in 1995, and watched by Butch Vig, Steve Marker and Duke Erikson who were looking for a suitable singer for a project they called Garbage.

In four years Garbage have sold eight million records and Shirley Manson has become an icon. She finds this both touching and uncomfortable ("I'm not sure I want the responsibility that goes with it"). She doesn't spend obscene amounts of money on clothes. "I'm way too Scottish for that," she says. "I'm well-known for watching the pennies. And I don't like shopping."

What's in your make-up bag? "What's not in it? That's the great thing about being in a well-known band - all of a sudden, every cosmetic company in the world starts to send you massive boxes of stuff. Which is fantastic. So you name it, I've got it."

Are you a tights or stockings girl? "Stockings." Have you ever told a friend they look good in something when they didn't? "Never. If I knew somebody well enough and I thought they were wearing something that was unbecoming, I'd tell them because I would hope that they'd tell me."

Is your wardrobe at home arranged in an orderly fashion? "Yes. Once you've worked in retail you can't have your hangers hanging in different directions. Old habits die hard - all my hangers have to hang the same way."

Have you ever had a proper bra fitting? "I don't wear bras."

Have you ever cried after going to the hairdressers? "Always."

Do you judge people by what they wear? "I try not to judge people, but I have preconceptions. I can always tell someone by their shoes, because they speak of a lifetime, a lifestyle and a philosophy."

Do you wear your moods? "No. If I did, I'd be constantly in black."

Have you ever been a tomboy? "I'm still a tomboy. I'm more of a boy than a lot of men I know. I just consider myself quite male in the way that I live my life. My husband has taken to calling me Michael Douglas, actually. Which is the biggest insult you could possibly pay a man or a woman. He says I'm like a character that he'd play in some ghastly movie."

Your jewelery is more weapon than decoration. Discuss. "I've never been into delicacy. I'm really an aggressive person by nature and I'm always attracted by thing like that. I wore a huge roung ring on the first film. I was in New York and a man tried to grab my c**t. I whacked him really hard on the side of the head with this ring and sent him flying across the sidewalk." Do you consciously wear things to be provocative? "No. I'm not interested in being provocative. Anybody can be provocative by wearing a low-cut top and a short skirt. I've certainly worn provocative clothing, but a lot of the time it's so I don't look like everybody else. I don't want to look like the next person."

Would you do a naked photo shoot? "I've turned down many opportunities to do so - with 'Penthouse' and 'Playboy'. I'd never say never, because I might do something with a friend. It's unlikely that I'd ever do something commercially, but I might do it privately. I don't see why anybody would want to look at my naked body. And I think it's sad that women are still perpetuating the idea that they're only worthy of our attention if they have beautiful naked bodies which are always on display."

What did you wear for your wedding? "(Sarcastically) A wedding dress. Very plain and classic."

You spend months at a time away from your husband Eddie. How on earth do you go so long without a shag? "Mmm, I just recently discovered goodvibes.com. What's on it? Work it out for yourself! And there's a lot of furious masturbation and pornography involved. Does that answer your question?" In the past year, Shirley Manson has had Brad Pitt and Madonna tell her that they're fans. In these moments, she wonders what the hell she's doing living this life. "I constantly think security are going to loom down on me and throw me out," she says with a glass-rattling laugh. "It's so peculiar that all of a sudden people you thought were untouchable become sucked into your own little sphere. But I don't want to become so jaded that certain peopl don't ring my bell."

Do you enjoy the celebrity lifestyle? "I think celebrities and celebrity-dom is truly pathetic. Each and every one of us is pathetic. I try as hard as I can to distance myself from that whole "I'm a star and you're a star, lets get together and be beautiful' thing. I can't bear it. It's phony and ultimately so destroying. Obviously, there are certain things that you're privy in the more successful you become that are intriguing. Every now and again it's fantastic to go to some millionaire's house in the Hollywood Hills, take all your clothes off with a bunch of other people, get in the hot-tub and drink champagne and smoke cigars. But there is a side to it that I don't think anybody ever really talks about - the abyss that most celebrities are trying to escape."

What abyss? "Themselves, ultimately. Every performer deals with it in different ways, but the whole is the motivator to do what we do - which is basically make idiots of ourselves in public to entertain people. I don't see how you can pretty up the fact. It's debasing in some ways."

You've been the victim of several tabloid kiss and tells. How does it make you feel? "I find it funny because I know the truth. Who hasn't kissed and had me? You name it, I've supposedly been there. But I can tell you right now, they're all wishing and hoping. They never happened. Everybody that I've ever done anything with that would warrant a great kiss and tell is a dear friend of mine and would never dare, because they love me and I still love them."

Shirley Manson is a mass of intriguing contradictions. She seems as tiny and fragile as a doll, but she wears a ring like a knuckle-duster on her left hand and never breaks eye contact. Her vocabulary is expansive, but she could swear for Scotland at international level. She has spent several years slagging off friends for going into therapy, but is now considering it herself. "I'm curious to the point where I have to go at least once to see what it's like," she explains. "I've got a feeling that I'd get terribly frustrated with it, because I want definite answers and I know that you don't get that. You're being led on a journey, and f**k that I'll just stay where I am thank you."

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? "Definitely an extrovert. I don't like having time and space on my own. It freaks me out. I like being around people at all times, that's why I do what I do. It's funny because I'm not extrovert about things that I really care about. Anything that's troubling me, I don't talk about it."

When was the last time you were a bitch to someone? "I'm constantly bitchy. I'm a very cruel individual. But the boys know that I'm a bitch and I just do it to entertain myself. They don't take it too seriously."

Have you thought about having children? "I have considered motherhood, although I don't think I could even begin to consider it seriously until I've stopped doing what I do. Or at least stopped touring as hard. I think I'd be a dreadful mother; everybody thinks I'd make a phenomenal mother. Would I get a nanny? No."

When was the last time you cried? "This morning. Why? You really don't want to go there. Trust me."

What's your passport photo like? "Really funny, because I got it taken during the making of 'Version 2.0'. It's the perfect portrait of studio tension. I look like if you touched me I'd shatter into a thousand pieces. But it's quite recent, so it's not too embarrassing."

What frightens you? "Disease. Spiders. Certainly not much else. My sister is a nurse and she used to have a medical dictionary, and anybody who is a fellow neurotic will understand that medical dictionaries are the highway to hell. I had to have mine literally prised from between my fingers and hidden just to alleviate my suffering and that of the people around me. "I once had a horrendous brush with death - or so I thought - in that I was told by a partner that I'd slept with that I may well have contracted HIV. I developed symptoms… I'm laughing now but it really wasn't funny. Even after multiple blood tests, I was still convinced I had it. Suffice to say, I eventually went along to the doctor after months of pestering her and she said, 'Shirley, have you ever tried relaxing in a bath?'."

What offends you? "Bad manners. Ignorance and intolerance."

What would the 15-year-old you think of you now? "I have no idea. I constantly think about this, because my life has turned out the complete polar opposite of what I thought it would. I keep thinking that if I sat the 15-year-old me down and said, 'This is what you're gonna do', I would have laughed so hard. I am the most unlikely person to be doing what I'm doing." "Everybody's shelf life is limited," says Shirley Manson in conclusion. "What will I do when this is over? I don't know. But I've got phenomenal resources of energy and I've got to put it somewhere. So someone out there's going to benefit from my energy.

"I know this sounds mad, but eventually I do want to do something that's so far removed from what I do now and involves more people than my own selfish and self-centered little sphere. Right now, I'm happy being selfish and self-centered, but I have a very deep rooted desire to be normal."

Do you ever wish it wouldn't go past so quickly? "No. I love the feeling of time speeding and my life zooming by, because I always feel like I'm escaping things. I'm dying to be 65 and smoking a pipe and knitting booties for little grandchildren and feeling at peace. I can't wait. Ha-ha!"