It seems fair to say that the launch of a
The 21-year-old model and tabloid fixture is co-starring in the drama Timeless in her television debut, a state of affairs judged important enough for Sky to bill her above established actors
I've seen teenage girls doggedly following rock bands, or pop stars, or heart-throb actors around, but I've never come across teenage girls following a model around before. I suppose there's no real reason why the latter is any weirder than the former, but it somehow feels that way. Weird, but, it seems, not uncommon, at least in Delevingne's case: these days, the press follow her everywhere, she says, and so do the fans, alerted to her movements thanks to social media. "I was just in
In addition to the photographers outside, there are more photographers inside the hotel. Delevingne says that she fantasises about one day punching one - "I'd love to, I dream about it at night" - but she seems happy enough posing for them, which involves much pulling of faces on her part. She pretends to push over a grandfather clock while winking, sticks her tongue out, waves her arms in the air and flashes peace signs with both hands while popping out her eyes. It's all faintly exhausting to watch, but then pulling faces is apparently vitally important to Delevingne's personal brand.
It's barely two years since her modelling career really took off: she had been modelling since she was 10 - her first job involved hats and
"As a model, I really stand for not being a model, if that makes sense," she says. "When I started, the whole idea of the model was very different, it was a bit stuckup. Not stuckup, but no one was trying to have fun, or not even have fun, but be willing to smile." Furthermore, her public displays of goofiness are held to be the reason a huge chunk of her 1.68-million
This, despite a wealth of evidence that suggests that if Delevingne were any less like your average British girl, she'd be bright green and sport antennae. Her father is a property developer, invariably described as "a man about town". Her mother was a model, a heroin addict, and is now a personal shopper:
Quite aside from modelling, she was alighted on by
You might feel inclined to pull a few faces of your own at all of this: the connections and privilege and money; the pretty pass that modern celebrity has become when you can achieve media ubiquity by sticking your tongue out and crossing your eyes whenever a pap takes your photograph. But even so, it's hard not to boggle at the level of fame Delevingne has attained.
She rarely gives interviews - in fairness, it's not like she needs the publicity - and thus my meeting with her is considered to be a very big deal. It's moved at the last minute from Soho to a venue nearer her home, where a variety of people from her modelling agency, Storm, position themselves within earshot. Furthermore, it comes with conditions attached: I am not allowed to mention her love life, which has previously involved alleged relationships with
The thing is, I couldn't care less whether Delevingne takes drugs or not. Frankly, I wouldn't blame her if she did: if I were her, I'd probably spend my every waking hour in a state of advanced stupefaction, in an attempt to try to obliterate the thought that the Mail Online is permanently camped out on my doorstep and people are tracking my every move on social media. But what is interesting is how lightly the press treated the incident. At the time the tabloids were nearly herniating themselves in order to expose lesser celebrities' chemical proclivities but the matter quietly blew over. Depending on your perspective, that either tells you something about wealth and privilege or about the fact that Delevingne is so popular and so valuable to the celebrity press that it's better not to rock the boat. She concedes that the press has thus far "been pretty fucking nice to me", but professes bafflement as to why she has become so successful - "because I'm lucky and I made the right decisions? I don't know, I have no idea" - and is dismissive of her status as a style icon: "I always wear the same frigging things, jeans and leather jacket and a beanie and some trainers. Even at school, some people were always like: 'Oh, you can't wear the same outfit twice in a week", or whatever, and I was like: 'What? It's just clothes.' It really is just clothes."
I suspect this is one reason why people seem to like Delevingne so much: she's so dismissive of the fashion world that made her famous. You might reasonably point out that someone born into wealth can afford to be dismissive of their job. Even so, it's an industry that holds itself in such po-faced high regard that it's hard not to warm to someone at the centre of it who implies that she thinks it's sorely lacking. If her daughter wanted to become a model, she says: "I'd say no, if that's all she aspired to. You know, I get a lot of girls who say, I just want to be a model so badly. And I think: you can do better than that. I do love it, I'm not saying anything bad about it, I just think you can do a lot more. I was incredibly lucky to do as well as I've done, it's not easy, there's so many models go through so much shit, and it's just, if you have a brain, which everyone does, use it and try and do something else."
She says she only became a model in the first place to put herself through drama school: despite the fact that she still lives with them, she claims her parents stopped supporting her financially when she was 16. When she first started modelling, she carried a video camera around with her, to record "all the weird parts of it". "You're looked through, you're not looked at, you are treated as a kind of mannequin. I got a tattoo saying Made in
Still, she says, modelling got her into acting, "so I can't complain". Her early forays into film were pretty much what you would expect, including a cameo in
"I knew I was going to have to fight really hard to do it, because I had to prove myself. Most people have that stigma: she's a model, can't act, we don't want you in our movie. People say to me: 'The money's probably not enough, it's not the amount of money you usually get paid.' And I sit there going: 'No, that's not the point, I would pay to do this film because I care about it so much.'"
She says that giving up modelling to act would be "blissful". Conversely, if acting doesn't work out, ". . . would I be happy to carry on modelling?" There's a long pause. "Um, yeah." Then she has another thought. "You know what? If that happens, if I've made a fair bit of money or whatever, I can stop and I'll do music. I will cut six months out of the year to make an album. That's the point. I can't just here and there do recording sessions, you've got to stop and you get rid of everything, all the shit that's going on around you and actually lock yourself away and do it." She sounds more impassioned than she has in the whole time I've been with her. "And that's what I'd fucking love to do. And when this shit doesn't work out, yeah, I will block that out and do it. That's what I'm waiting for," she says. "For the kind of time I can use." Over her shoulder, out of the window, I can see the photographers amassing once more around the hotel's entrance.
Playhouse Presents . . . Timeless is on Thursday 19 June at
The many (crazy) faces of
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