Instagram fashionista Miquela Sousa casts no shadow

Miquela Sousa has more than 1 million Instagram followers. (Instagram: @lilmiquela)
Updated 22 May 2018
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Instagram fashionista Miquela Sousa casts no shadow

  • Lil Miquela posts selfies on Instagram “wearing” labels like Diesel, Stussy and Prada and “hanging out” with various musicians and fashion industry figures at restaurants in New York City and LA.
  • She has given interviews — via email — before, though her PR people, a New York City advertising firm, declined to make her available to the media to explain exactly what is going on here.

LONDON: Miquela Sousa is a success story for the modern age. She is a 19-year-old fashion-world influencer from LA with over 1 million followers.

She posts selfies on Instagram “wearing” labels like Diesel, Stussy and Prada and “hanging out” with various musicians and fashion industry figures at restaurants in New York City and LA, and has released a handful of popular singles.

However, she doesn’t cast a shadow in any of her photos, because to have a shadow, you have to exist. And Miquela doesn’t exist.

Lil Miquela, as she is known, is a computer-generated image, the work of an LA-based artificial intelligence firm called Brud.

She’s been in “photoshoots” in magazines like Interview and Highsnobiety, but it’s not clear how those images are created.

She has given interviews — via email — before, though her PR people, a New York City advertising firm, declined to make her, or Brud, available to the media to explain exactly what is going on here.

Is it an attempt to manufacture an influencer, someone with a lot of social media followers who can spruik brands’ products? Is it a branding exercise for an AI firm?

To Ryan Shelley, a social media expert from the firm Pepper IT, the fact that interest has piqued recently around Miquela’s existence suggests the power of this particular piece of storytelling.

“Some people tune in and watch the Kardashians on TV,” he said. “People are tuning into Instagram and they are watching the self-realization of a robot.”

Instagram trades on the idea of authenticity — you follow someone because you want that behind-the-scenes insight into their life, but the arrival of Lil Miquela has resulted in a redrafting of the script.


Know your Arab jewelry designers

Updated 15 August 2018
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Know your Arab jewelry designers

DUBAI: The Arab world is known for its love of jewelry. Here are some emerging and established home-grown brands.

Alia bin Omair

Born in the UAE, Alia bin Omair’s collection, Leaf, is based on the ever-present palm trees found in the region.

Nuun Jewels

Nuun Jewels was founded by Saudi Arabian Princess Nourah Al Faisal, who opened a boutique on the shopping avenue Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris.

Mukhi Sisters

The Lebanese-Indian sisters Maya, Meena, and Zeenat Mukhi come from a long line of jewelers. Their line incorporates tradition with extravagant settings.

Bil Arabi

Lebanese designer Nadine Kanso launched her brand, Bil Arabi, in Dubai in 2006. It went on to quickly become one of the region’s hottest lines.

Jude Benhalim

Egyptian Jude Benhalim launched her jewelry brand when she was 17 in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since.

Azza Fahmy

The most well-known internationally, Egyptian Azza Fahmy began her trade in the 1960s when she became the first woman to serve an apprenticeship in Egypt’s jewelry district.