View attachment 32840 Most 20-year-old girls caught in possession of a clear plastic bag of white powder would pray that their employers wouldn’t find out, keep a low profile and at least make a decent fist at showing contrition.
But then Cara Delevingne isn’t most women. Within days of dropping what appeared to be a bag of cocaine in clear view of the paparazzi, she was partying into the small hours with singer Rihanna in a strip club, enjoying a very public Sapphic smooch with Sienna Miller and jetting to Singapore with Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld.
There has been neither an explanation nor an apology, while the fashion industry has responded with deafening silence.
The gilded life of the hottest model to come out of Britain in years continues as before, while her growing army of impressionable young fans has learned a dangerous lesson: normal rules do not apply if you are beautiful, rich and famous.
But even as the furore dies down somewhat, a deeper concern remains. For with every absurdly luxurious airmile she accumulates, Cara is travelling ever further from reality.
Her family will not want her own trajectory to mirror that of her equally beautiful mother, Pandora (pictured below on the left), who lost years of her life to drug abuse and rehab.
View attachment 32841
‘You cannot overstate how easy it is for young models to be led astray,’ says Imogen Edwards-Jones, the author of Fashion Babylon and a longstanding critic of the industry. ‘They are young, they have a lot of money — or at least they feel like they do — and every night is party night. But everyone has a shelf life and there’ll come a day when you’re out of fashion. The question is what happens then.’
Nobody knows what was in the bag of white powder Cara dropped on her Belgravia doorstep last weekend, though her desperation to hide it from view did little to dampen speculation.
As she rummaged for her keys, the package spilled out of her handbag onto the steps where she quickly covered it with her shoe.
The farcical episode (she eventually had to be let into the property by a lackey after failing to find the right key) is understood to have sent her spinning with anxiety for 24 hours, but she was soon back to her usual zany behaviour.
This isn’t the first time the spectre of drugs has cast a shadow over the Delevingnes.
When Cara’s older sisters, Chloe, 29, and Poppy, 27, were young, their mother Pandora spent long periods of time away from the family home as she battled a serious heroin addiction. It nearly killed her, so the family will naturally be worried that the youngest of the clan should not fall into similar habits. For in contrast to the worldly image she presents, Cara is very much a child at heart. In her teens she suffered badly from insomnia and to this day she struggles to sleep, a problem worsened by constant transatlantic travel.
Visitors to her apartment say she still lives like a typical teenager, with clothes strewn everywhere. Off-duty she has a tomboyish love of tinkering on her drumkit (she once wanted to be a pop star) and playing computer games on her Xbox.
She has a fanatical obsession with music usually associated with teenagers (Cara has all of Jessie J’s records) and until recently kept her spare change in a Power Rangers wallet.
She describes her friends Rihanna and Rita Ora — two pop stars renowned for their edgy lifestyles — as being more consistent figures in her life than her actual family.
No sooner had the ‘cocaine Cara’ bombshell exploded than she was on a flight to New York to take in a Rihanna concert and attend the star-studded Met Gala with her showbusiness ‘family’.
While there she took the opportunity to meet up with the photographer Terry Richardson and pose for a series of pictures, in which she is seen generally playing the fool and mugging for the camera.
Given Richardson’s controversial reputation (he has been accused of sexually exploiting young models), it could be interpreted as a way of holding up two fingers to her critics. Not that those in the industry are concerned.
At the Met Gala she was feted by everyone she met, resplendent in a studded Burberry gown slashed to the navel. Burberry’s Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey was photographed with Cara, who appears in Burberry’s summer ad campaign, despite the white powder incident.
She was also spotted chatting to Sir Philip Green, the retail tycoon who played a major role in the rehabilitation of Kate Moss after she was photographed taking cocaine by a tabloid newspaper when he invited her to design her own range of clothing for Topshop.
UK Vogue may be regretting putting her on the cover of Miss Vogue, a brand new publication aimed at teenage readers. Alexandra Shulman, the magazine’s editor, described her in an editorial as: ‘Miss Vogue made physical.’ Shulman was reluctant to comment when I contacted her this week. Her representative told me she had been in ‘back-to-back meetings all day’, though her Twitter account indicated she was taking in an exhibition at the British Museum then visiting the hairdressers. We shouldn’t be too surprised, given that this month’s Vogue cover star is Kate Moss. This is the 33rd time she has achieved the feat.
As Imogen Edwards-Jones puts it: ‘Drug scandals don’t seem to affect the careers of models in the same way as ordinary people. Kate Moss saw her earnings go up in a big way. ‘The thing about Cara is that she’s not just a model, she’s also an It-girl because she’s posh and she goes to all the right parties. But modelling is not an industry renowned for its pastoral care. It’s full of young girls living the dream. If you were invited to seven parties on the same night, you’d find it funny. But if you’re 19 or 20 and have an agency car waiting outside to whisk you away, then why not go for it? It’s great fun but it’s utterly exhausting. That’s why they subsist on champagne and Haribos.’
Cara’s influence stretches far further than the pages of Vogue. Girls of a certain age idolise her — dozens of Twitter and Facebook pages are dedicated to her, with thousands of followers who call themselves Delevingners. These impressionable youngsters follow her every move. Yet in her own way Cara has barely grown out of this phase herself. Only in her case the idol is Kate Moss.
The two women were both discovered by the same model scout — Sarah Doukas, the grande dame of Storm Models — but in very different circumstances Doukas spotted Kate by chance in an airport when she was 14. Cara, by contrast, became best friends with Doukas’s daughter, Genevieve, aged five. And while Cara has known her idol for years, this has done nothing to dull her worship. Friends are accustomed to seeing Cara poring over moody black-and-white shots of Kate taken in the Nineties with her then love Johnny Depp. Worringly, it was during this time that Kate was the poster girl for ‘heroin chic’, while Depp was proprietor of a nightclub in LA, The Viper Room, where American actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose.
In contrast to the fiercely private Kate, Cara is addicted to social media, routinely sharing intimate details of her life on Twitter and Instagram every day. Journalists and photographers adore her because she appears incapable of passing a camera without stopping to pose and blurt a stream of consciousness into the lens.
As Imogen Edwards-Jones says: ‘Everyone wants a piece of Cara but it won’t always be like this. Kate Moss was brilliant at keeping her mystique alive. She hardly ever gave interviews, you never heard her speak. Like an old Hollywood icon, the image was carefully controlled. Cara is the opposite. She’s terrifyingly open and you can’t help but worry how she will cope when the bubble bursts.’
Only then will we find out how much her ‘friends’ in the fashion industry truly care.
10 May 2013
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