Depending on the way you Google Cara Delevingne, you might wind up with striking, glamorous fashion photos of her walking in the
Burberry show, or moping around in Saint Laurent ads. But include the terms “Instagram” or “selfie” or “paparazzi” in your search, and you’ll get images of her topless in the Mexican surf, making out with Michelle Rodriguez, or posing outside a fashion show cross-eyed with a finger-gun to her head. Delevingne, 21, who began walking runways in 2010, has become arguably the most famous new face in fashion. But she’s an entirely new kind of star: She is using social media in a way that promotes her imperfect brand—calling the paparazzi “assassins” on Twitter and using Instagram to repost memes of herself from around the web. A video of her leading a group of models in the Harlem Shake—last year’s viral dance anthem—has more than a million and a half hits; her twerk-a-thon with fellow Victoria’s Secret models received similar numbers. In an age of the fastidiously styled and perfectly presented model, Delevingne offers something gloriously weird. Here’s how she did it.
This article appears in the April 21, 2014 issue of New York Magazine.