Some days ago Calvin Klein released the third video of its new campaign: Bella Hadid and Lil Miquela kiss and embrace while a background voice explain that “life is about opening door, creating new dreams you knew would exist”. The video went viral pretty soon and trigger mixed reactions. Not for the scene itself, which is not scandalous, but for the fact that Lil Miquela does not exist. Or, more correctly, she exists and also has a main role in the contemporary web’s landscape, but she doesn’t exist in the traditional sense, in “flesh and blood”.
Lil Miquela was the first digital-created-model who went famous on Instagram and won a place in the fashion industry: Calvin Klein spot come after other commercials and collaborations Lil Miquela did. In 2018, for instance, she collaborated with Prada for the autumn winter collection and took part of the show through a drone. She then appeared on Vogue, V Magazine and others becoming a fully-fledge celebrity. Responsible of her creation is the Brud Company, US company specialized in robotic and artificial intelligence.
She lives in Los Angeles, loves contemporary art, produces music and is deeply passionate about fashion. From her Instagram account she many time took position on social issues, such us Black Lives Matter Movement and Sioux’s rights against the petrochemical industry. Lil Miquela is now the idol of young generation, which is not concerned at all about her reality. And, what does it matter after all?
Halfway between a Black Mirror episode and Her, Spike Jonze’s movie (2013), Bella Hadid and Lil Miquela’s kiss led us to a very important question, about social media and new form of communication: do we really care about the reality of what we see? In Instagram’s landscape, what’s the difference between real human being influencers and digitally created ones?
Truth to be said, digital characters like Lil Miquela, appositely created for the web, have the same credibility and the same dignity than any other accounts. Instagram’s accounts are a digital representation of ourselves and they are all but spontaneous. We filter our pictures and our behaviors, we chose what to publish and in which way, in order to create a certain image of ourself which is not totally coherent with our daily life in the real world. Digital’s influencers work excatly in the same way and they are the ultimate example of social media’s fictive world where we live now. This is the limit virtual models’ creation has reached so far.
Lil Miquela’s example has been followed by other digital influencers, such as Shudu Gram, a black model now reference point for the black community in the fashion field.
Virtual influencers are a good tool to win the attention of the audience, especially the younger one, which is born and raised with social network. In the meantime they appear to be an efficient way to spread important messages and campaigns for humanitarian issues, drawing a peaceful future for humans and technologies we are still not used to.
Written by Giulia Greco