Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Digital Native; TRENDS She's Landed Prada Campaigns and Magazine Covers -- but Miquela Sousa Isn't Actually Real. Samuel Fishwick Meets a CGI Model

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Digital Native; TRENDS She's Landed Prada Campaigns and Magazine Covers -- but Miquela Sousa Isn't Actually Real. Samuel Fishwick Meets a CGI Model

Article excerpt

Byline: Samuel Fishwick

MIQUELA Sousa is impossible to track down. Partly because she's so in demand but mostly because she doesn't actually exist. Not IRL, anyway.

@LilMiquela, a 19-year-old Brazilian-Spanish model (according to her bio) is already an Instagram sensation -- since she set up her account in 2016 she has acquired a million followers, with whom she shares photoshoots of herself draped in Balenciaga, Chanel, Proenza Schouler, Supreme, Vetements and Vans. At the most recent Milan Fashion Week in February, Lil Miquela gave Prada fans a tour of the brand's studio via Instagram stories. She has appeared on the cover of cult magazine High Snobiety, and her debut single Not Mine reached number eight on Spotify Viral in August 2017.

But back to the salient point: she's not real. The Instagram model is the internet's first computer-generated influencer -- a CGI model who looks a bit like a Sim and has a very real fanbase and devoted team who answer interview questions via email instead.

"I'm lucky, I guess," "she" says, when asked to what she can attribute her success. "My followers are amazing. People stick around [in our community] because they end up learning more about themselves through the questions they're asking. I love being able to communicate, learn and talk to everyone from all corners of the world. The people who follow me end up being friends with each other and the communications that it opens up is inspiring."

So far, so cyborg: light, life-affirming quotebait. But also, all very confusing, blurring the boundaries further between what's real and fake online.

Continued on Page 34 Continued from Page 33 The avatar fronts real-life brands, though won't confirm whether or not someone is paid by them.

So why is she any better than your average "it" girl -- many of whom also have millions of followers? …

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