Is the oh-so posh new face of fashion hell-bent on being wilder than Kate Moss? Cara Delevingne's troubling parallels with hell-raiser star
By CATHERINE OSTLER
PUBLISHED: 02:11 GMT, 23 February 2013 | UPDATED: 02:11 GMT, 23 February 2013
Star: Well-bred, well-connected, privately-educated Cara has enchanted the fashion world's cameras with her pixieish, unconventional looks
On the catwalk, Cara Delevingne is immaculate: sleek and blonde, her photogenic face framed by those trademark bushy eyebrows, her lips set in a forthright pout.
Since being crowned Model Of The Year at the British Fashion Awards in November, she has sashayed down the runways of 13 designers in New York and seven in London. Earlier this week, she was the star at Burberry — London Fashion Week’s flagship show.
It is Cara on the cover of this month’s British Vogue; it is Cara on billboards for the Spanish High Street chain Zara, and it is Cara who is the face of Chanel and the body of Victoria’s Secret lingerie.
Well-bred, well-connected, privately-educated Cara has enchanted the fashion world’s cameras with her pixieish, unconventional looks. Her outspoken manner and reckless energy have made her popular with fashion students and admiring teenage girls who call themselves ‘Cara’s Army’.
The editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, says: ‘Cara is one of those girls who combine energy, wit, enthusiasm and the kind of edgy beauty that marks her out from the general pool of beautiful models.’
Mario Testino, who took William and Kate’s engagement photos and who shot Cara in her breakthrough Burberry campaign, has likened her to a young Kate Moss.
For years, the fashion world has been trying to anoint a successor to Moss who, at 39 and two-years married, has become too happily settled to go on playing the bad girl. Has the white smoke finally gone up?
Coincidentally, Moss and Cara share an agent: Sarah Doukas of the Storm modelling agency, who spotted Moss at JFK airport in New York when she was just 14. Doukas’s daughter, Genevieve, was at the progressive Bedales boarding school with Cara.
Like Moss, Cara has the impish air of the permanent truant. And yet, the comparison to Moss is also a troubling one.
In her recent autobiography, Moss told some stark truths about her early hedonistic years as a model. She described how at 15 she was out clubbing most nights, in tears on photo shoots, and had a nervous breakdown at 17 or 18. She found that as a young model, ‘no one takes care of you mentally’.
At 20, Cara is slightly older than Moss was when she embarked on her modelling career, but she has all of Moss’s hard-partying instincts.
This beauty can be a bit of a beast. Earlier this week, she was photographed stumbling down the steps of a private house in Notting Hill at 5am. It was the fourth venue in a marathon night of partying.
The revelries had started at The Cockpit, an East End pub, with her equally boisterous model friend Georgia May Jagger, daughter of Mick. Cara was dressed in a tomboyish off-duty uniform of trainers and scruffy jeans and she left the pub clutching a bag of sweets.
By the end of the night, when she left the house of David Beckham’s friend, football agent Dave Gardner, she was dishevelled and unsteady on her feet. At one point, she fell over in front of a crowd of paparazzi.
That night wasn’t a one-off. Cara, who says she needs only between two and four hours sleep a night, regularly sees off even the most die-hard party animals.
At another function this week, she outdrank the hard-living Bajan pop star Rihanna, before wobbling out of London’s louchest nightclub, The Box, to be photographed prancing about on top of a limo in a bizarre winged outfit.
Even when she is on duty, she seems hardly able to contain herself. At the Burberry show, she grabbed a tray of sandwiches, hopped over the barrier and offered them to a stunned crowd. Of course, there is a fine line between quirky and crazy.
(Party girl: Cara Delevingne is pictured falling down the stairs while leaving a house party in London)
Cara is the sort of irrepressible, boyish girl who gurns for the cameras. She crosses her eyes, sticks her tongue out, sucks her cheeks in like a goldfish and hold her hands in front of her chin like a meerkat.
She likes to wear a bright yellow tiger stripe onesie with furry ears and matching tail. She is often more ladette than lady.
Her background is certainly glamorous. Her father, Charles, is a property developer and his wife, Pandora, is head of personal shopping at Selfridges. Pandora’s father was Sir Jocelyn Stevens, a former chairman of English Heritage and his wife, Janie, was lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret.
Pandora has struggled with addiction for years. She once movingly told me in an interview for Tatler about her battle to beat heroin addiction.
She wasn’t always around when Cara was growing up. Cara’s sister, Poppy, also a model, once said that the sisters ‘mothered each other’.
Family and friends from the private Francis Holland School for Girls, near Sloane Square, and Bedales say Cara has always been sweet, but also social, wilful and experimental. No one with Joan Collins as a godmother was ever going to turn out to be shy and retiring.
Certainly, Cara’s love life has been as vigorous as her social life. At 18, she began dating Tyrone Wood, son of Rolling Stone rocker Ronnie Wood. Their relationship was short-lived.
Then there was the ubiquitous Harry Styles, the 18-year-old would-be lothario from boyband One Direction. This was followed by a brief flirtation with U.S. pop star Justin.
Now there is an individual called Jake Bugg. He is a singer songwriter from Nottingham who has been memorably described as ‘the East Midlands answer to Bob Dylan’. He sings about growing up smoking drugs on a Nottingham council estate. He is 18, but looks younger.
But Cara has teasingly told fans that she is bisexual. ‘Playing for more than one team’ is what she tweeted to her nearly 490,000 followers on the social networking site Twitter. She calls her best friend, the young British singer Rita Ora, her ‘wifey’ and Ora has been spotted wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘Queen Delevingne’.
They were recently pictured by the fashion photographer Rankin, lips almost touching.
Her closest friends — including fellow aristocratic model Mary Charteris, Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw, Pixie Geldof and Georgia May Jagger — are always glued to her side.
Cara will certainly need friends if she is to survive the fashion industry. It is a dangerous world for an impressionable young woman already drawn to making mischief. It can turn even the most doe-eyed teenagers into decadent dervishes with no sense of self-preservation.
Star models are often treated as little more than cash cows working for the benefit of their agents, of photographers and of the designers whose clothes they wear. Like Moss, Cara may find that pastoral care is all but non-existent.
amously, after years of smoking, drinking, drug-taking and staying up until dawn, Moss’s lifestyle caught up with her.
In 2005, she was filmed taking lines of cocaine with her then boyfriend Pete Doherty, a singer who has made no secret of his own addiction to heroin. The lurid revelations earned her the nickname ‘Cocaine Kate’.
In the immediate aftermath, she lost several of her modelling contracts, but the fashion world can be remarkably forgiving when it comes to drugs. A year after the cocaine scandal, Moss secured an astonishing 18 new contracts.
Indeed, drug addiction is almost a rite of passage in an industry where weight must be kept down; energy levels must be kept up when travelling across time zones to attend photo shoots and international fashion weeks; boredom easily sets in and cash is no problem.
Early nights are unheard of and rarely do you meet anyone who says ‘no’ to a sought-after model. Even those who never touch illicit substances can struggle to survive in an industry that prizes youth and beauty above all else.
Cara Delevingne is at a fork in the road. Those photographs showing her stumbling down the stairs in Notting Hill look a little bit ominous.
Indeed, Cara may be turning out to be even wilder than Kate. Last November, at a book launch thrown by Moss, it was Cara who stole the show by leaving the party, throwing strange dance moves in the street, with her make-up smeared and with an unexplained cut on her neck and blood on her chin.
Success and fame make sense only when they have followed years of hard work and dedication. Like footballers and royalty, models lose their way when fame comes too early and too easily. Those who act like they don’t care what anyone thinks are sometimes in danger of throwing away what they have too lightly.
But then Cara claims she never wanted to be a model in the first place. When she started in the business, Simon Fuller (most famous for managing the Spice Girls) tried to turn her into a singer. Now she wants to be an actress, or a writer, or a director.
She has already played the part of Princess Sorokina, a young beauty who threatens the peace of mind of Keira Knightley’s Anna, in Joe Wright’s film Anna Karenina.
Modelling can be a springboard to greater things, or a dead end. For lively Cara, we must hope it’ll be the former.