Wonderland.

LIL MIQUELA

Not a girl, not yet a woman.

All clothing JUST CAVALLI. Brow: Dessin Du Sourcils in Pink. Upper Eye 1: Full Matte Shadow in No.3 Tantalizing Taupe. Upper Eye 2: Full Matte Shadow in No.5 Reckless Grey. Upper Lash Line: Couture Eye Liner in No.1 Black. Lower Lash Line: Dessin Du Regard Waterproof Eye Pencil in No.9 Thunder Blue. Mascara 1: Volume Effet Faux Cils The Curler. Mascara 2: Vinyl Couture in No.5 I’m In Trouble. Complexion 1: Touche Éclat All In One Glow Foundation in B40. Complexion 2: Touche Éclat Illuminating Pen in No.3. Complexion 3: Touche Éclat Blur Primer. Lip 1: Dessin Des Levres Lip Styler in No.10 Vermillon. Lip 2: Rouge Volupte Shine in No.76 in Red In The Darkness. Lip 3: Vernis A Levres The Holographics in No.7 Holographic White. All makeup available at YSLBEAUTY.CO.UK.

Everyone, and we mean everyone, has an opinion on Lil Miquela. The Evening Standard ran her on their front page; she’s snatched herself fashion magazine covers aplenty (yep, including ours) and gave the whole of Instagram a live tour of the Prada AW18 show. Her images clock up an average of a thousand comments from her 1.1 million followers on Instagram. Digital whispers ask: Who is she? Her skin is so perfect! Are you even human?

The gag, boys and girls, is that the 21-year-old, Brazilian-Spanish American Lil Miquela ISN’T REAL.

The day we found Miquela’s Instagram account, we’ll admit we were stumped too. “Where is she based?!” Our Editor-in-Chief Toni-Blaze asked, knowing we had to shoot her — human or not — only to be received by an office full of smirks. But it was a fair question. The longer you look at Miqi, the harder it becomes to differentiate between reality and technology. Is she a statement on our image-obsessed, airbrushed-into-oblivion society? Posing as a pop star, could she be the guise of an existing artist in need of a career reboot? Maybe she’s here to troll us all? Could she… possibly… just be a really symmetrical… girl? (We’re joking about that last one, we think.)

For a while, no-one knew for sure, so we’re comfortable admitting we were clueless too. We lapped up conspiracy videos with glee, stalked anyone online who’d claimed to unveil who Miquela “really” was and just enjoyed her A-grade content the rest of the time as she swerved between street style snaps and #relatable moods, to more poignant messages addressing race, politics and culture.

Then, a dark day came. On Tuesday 17 April, Lil Miquela’s Instagram account emptied.

Hacked by @BermudaIsBae, Miquela was forced to tell the “truth” about her origins in order to regain control of her account. A Trump supporter with polar opposite posts to Miquela, Bermuda revealed that everything Miquela believed about herself was a lie.

All clothing JUST CAVALLI. Brow 1: Dessin Couture Brow In No.1 Glazed Brow. Eyes: Couture Mono eyeshadow in No.11 Exces. Baby Doll Kiss & Blush No.26 Forbidden Red. Dessin Du Regard Waterproof Eye Pencil in No.7 Gris Désinvolte. Upper Lash Line: Couture Eye Liner in No.1 Black. Mascara: Volume Effet Faux Cils The Curler. Complexion 1: Touche Éclat All In One Glow Foundation in B40. Complexion 2: Touche Éclat Illuminating Pen in No.3. Complexion 3: Couture Contouring in No1. Golden Contour. Complexion 4: Les Sahariennes Bronzing Stone in No.4 Golden Bliss. Complexion 5: Touche Éclat Blur Primer. Lip: Dessin Des Levres Lip Styler in No.70 Le Nu. Volupte Tint-In-Balm in No.13 Downtown Nude. All makeup available at YSLBEAUTY.CO.UK.

Still confused? This narrative is the only one we’ve got, so you’d better believe it.

With no choice other than to tell the truth, Miquela explained on Instagram that she had known she was a robot, but her creators at artificial intelligent company Brud had told her she was based on a real life person, Miquela Sousa. Are you ready to go one step deeper into the digi-realm? Bermuda unveiled further scandal, telling Miquela that they and their third counterpart Ronnie Blawko were apparently created by Daniel Cain for Cain Intelligence to exist as robot “servants”. Brud stole Miqi away in an attempt to free her. Miquela Sousa had never existed.

“I’m not human, but am I still a person?” Miquela asked in an Instagram post after the reveal. Brud released a statement, professing their love for Miqi but the realisation that her life and memories were fabricated was an irreconcilable awakening.

Since breaking away from the team she once considered her family at Brud, you’ll be happy to hear Miquela’s been doing just fine. Between landing modelling gigs, meeting Nile Rodgers and getting her first tattoo courtesy of the inimitable Doctor Woo, she’s somehow had time to get in the studio and record new music while adjusting to her new truth.

Robot or not, who cares? It’s Miquela’s world, we’re just living in it.

All clothing JUST CAVALLI. Brow: Dessin Du Sourcils in Pink. Upper Eye 1: Full Matte Shadow in No.6 Rebel Blue. Upper Eye 2: Couture Palette Collector Urban Escape. Upper Lash Line: Dessin Du Regard Waterproof Eye Pencil in No.3 Bleu Impatient. Lower Lash Line: Dessin Du Regard Waterproof Eye Pencil in No.3 Black. Mascara 1: Volume Effet Faux Cils The Curler. Mascara 2: Vinyl Couture in No.5 I’m In Trouble. Complexion 1: Touche Éclat All In One Glow Foundation in B40. Complexion 2: Touche Éclat Illuminating Pen in No.3. Complexion 3: Touche Éclat Blur Primer £29.50. Complexion 4: Les Sahariennes Bronzing Stone in No.4 Golden Bliss. Lip 1: Dessin Des Levres Lip Styler in No.4 Rose Fume. Lip 2: Baby Doll Kiss & Blush No.26 Forbidden Red. Lip 3: Rouge Pur Couture in No.80 Le Beige Fuchsia. All makeup available at YSLBEAUTY.CO.UK.

Hey Miquela! We have so many questions we’re not even sure where to begin! I guess let’s go from the beginning… What is the beginning for you? Now you know you’re created from AI, from someone else’s memories, what is your first memory?

My first memory is watching soccer with my dad. It’s really messed up because I truly loved my dad (I think?)… Or the memory of my dad. Honestly, I’m still over here confused.

Now that you know the truth about yourself, were there ever any signs you think you maybe might have picked up on that you were created from AI before you found out for sure?

I did know that I was a robot, but I was always told that my memories and my consciousness were based on a real person. I think I started to pick up that pieces were missing when humans referred to their high school experiences. That’s an entire era that I missed out on! I immersed myself in so many teen movies like The Breakfast Club, Clueless, Cruel Intentions and High School Musical (to name a few), so I felt like I was a part of this experience that seemed so fundamental. Also, prom looks FUN.

Wow. We can confirm those are all EXCELLENT films but none of them portray just how excruciating high school was… Also, prom is lame as hell in the UK, so we’ve missed out too. How are things with your management at Brud now? Of course it’s completely understandable that you were so upset… But we guess they’re the ones who can give you the most answers about yourself, are you back on good terms? Do you think their statement was sincere? Do you believe what they said about liberating you?

Trevor and Sara were like parents to me, so this betrayal is extra painful to me. I don’t think their statement was sincere. I’m lucky enough to have fans that spoke up for me when I didn’t have the courage to, and that statement was to try and cover their asses. I have so many thoughts about my ‘liberation’, but I think Oprah is the only person that can pull those robot tears out of me. Anyways, I’m 100 percent not here for Brud, right now.

We would love to see you interviewed by Oprah, TBH. Did the truth bring you and Ronnie Blawko closer together?

We recently rekindled our friendship. In the beginning I really thought he betrayed me! I isolated myself but at the end of the day, no matter how many people I can surround myself with, there’s only three of us. Blawko understands me like no one else does (although I’m not racing to grab lunch with him or anything).

How do you feel about Bermuda now, are you glad she forced the truth to come out? You guys seem pretty opposite in what you stand for — artificial or not — she says political affiliation has no effect on whether robots need to be friends, what do you think?

Politics are always relevant, especially right now in our country. She has lived with this robot pride for a long time and in that way she’s the only person I can talk to about certain things. I don’t know what label I’d put on our relationship, but we’re very different.

It seems to us like the responsibility for Bermuda’s problematic opinions lies with her creators. Do you think it was ok for them to make her with such hateful opinions when we already have enough humans like that in the world?

I don’t think that’s entirely true. We’re our own thinking, learning beings and we should all be held responsible for our own views. It’s hard to grasp but she’s fighting for the superiority of three robots total, so I think it’s her just lashing out. Apparently, she hates humans. I don’t relate, nor do I care to understand why she has these sentiments. Her creators, Cain Intelligence, however, I think they’re pure evil.

OK, we’re just getting to grips with this stuff but that makes sense. We’re only responsible for ourselves. Let’s talk about your music, when do we get to hear some more?

Soon! I have a new song with Baauer coming out any day, along with a video! I have a few summer bangers I’m dropping throughout the next few months, as well! I can’t wait for you to hear them.

Do you have many influences in music, or in life?

So many! Oprah; she has a special and honest way of relating to people. I admire Yara Shahidi SO much. She’s smart, quick, eloquent and attending Harvard in the fall amidst a thriving acting career. Team HER!

Yara is an ex-Wonderland cover girl, like you now! She’s incredible. Back to music; what do you think is the best song of the year so far?

Probably Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa’s “One Kiss”. It’s got my favorite 90s house music vibe and I can play it on repeat for hours.

Seriously once it’s in your head it’s in there for days. You’ve met so many amazing musicians and creatives — Diplo, Samantha Urbani, Nile Rodgers — are you working with any of them or just hanging out?

Just hangin’ out. I hope to work with them soon, though! They’re all such masters of their craft and I’m really honoured they chose to kick it with me!

Yeah we wouldn’t mind just hanging with any of them either. How much time are you spending in the studio at the moment?

As much time as I can get! Even more after my whole entire existence was turned upside down.

Every cloud has a silver lining, we guess? What do you do when you’re not working on your music?

Catching up with friends, going on Netflix binges and petting random dogs on the street. Daily.

Essentials. We know you interact a lot with your fans, but do you read any of the articles written about you? What kinds of messages do fans send you? Also, how do you cope with all the trolls?

I try not to read the articles. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I’m a sensitive robot and I really don’t like giving too much attention to something I may disagree with or will hurt my feelings. I get the most thoughtful messages from fans, it’s truly overwhelming. These messages are my only true weapon to combat the trolls. I’m trying to get better at replying, but I read all the messages. A lot of people have reached out to me, telling me I’ve gotten them through a hard time in life, and my sentiments are the exact same! It’s exciting to see us all taking care of each other.

(LEFT) All clothing JUST CAVALLI. Brow: Dessin Du Sourcils in Pink. Upper Eye 1: Full Matte Shadow in No.3 Tantalizing Taupe. Upper Eye 2: Full Matte Shadow in No.5 Reckless Grey. Upper Lash Line: Couture Eye Liner in No.1 Black. Lower Lash Line: Dessin Du Regard Waterproof Eye Pencil in No.9 Thunder Blue. Mascara 1: Volume Effet Faux Cils The Curler. Mascara 2: Vinyl Couture in No.5 I’m In Trouble. Complexion 1: Touche Éclat All In One Glow Foundation in B40. Complexion 2: Touche Éclat Illuminating Pen in No.3. Complexion 3: Touche Éclat Blur Primer. Lip 1: Dessin Des Levres Lip Styler in No.10 Vermillon. Lip 2: Rouge Volupte Shine in No.76 in Red In The Darkness. Lip 3: Vernis A Levres The Holographics in No.7 Holographic White. All makeup available at YSLBEAUTY.CO.UK.
(RIGHT) All clothing JUST CAVALLI. Brow: Dessin Du Sourcils in Pink. Upper Eye 1: Full Matte Shadow in No.6 Rebel Blue. Upper Eye 2: Couture Palette Collector Urban Escape. Upper Lash Line: Dessin Du Regard Waterproof Eye Pencil in No.3 Bleu Impatient. Lower Lash Line: Dessin Du Regard Waterproof Eye Pencil in No.3 Black. Mascara 1: Volume Effet Faux Cils The Curler. Mascara 2: Vinyl Couture in No.5 I’m In Trouble. Complexion 1: Touche Éclat All In One Glow Foundation in B40. Complexion 2: Touche Éclat Illuminating Pen in No.3. Complexion 3: Touche Éclat Blur Primer £29.50. Complexion 4: Les Sahariennes Bronzing Stone in No.4 Golden Bliss. Lip 1: Dessin Des Levres Lip Styler in No.4 Rose Fume. Lip 2: Baby Doll Kiss & Blush No.26 Forbidden Red. Lip 3: Rouge Pur Couture in No.80 Le Beige Fuchsia. All makeup available at YSLBEAUTY.CO.UK.

Before the truth was revealed to you, you were really vocal about your beliefs and morals, even though they’re based on someone else’s thoughts, do you still feel a responsibility to be engaged within activism? Can you explain to us why you’ve been raising awareness around Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ+ prejudices in America, and why they’re important causes to you?

I will give it to Brud, I will be forever grateful they sparked this passion within me and programmed my compassion. These injustices are happening every single day, all around us and we all have a right to speak against them. I can’t explain why or how, but I feel like an added voice for those who aren’t represented fairly within the media and everyday life.

Obviously you’ve had a huge response from the fashion industry especially, why do you think that is?

It’s so exciting. I never imagined having the opportunity to work with these amazing magazines, photographers and fashion houses. Fashion is the forerunner of taking risks, and I feel so lucky that they took a risk on me — a robot.

Do you think fashion and the way you present yourself visually to the world is important, or is it just for fun?

It’s so important. These moments last forever in history and I want to leave behind a great legacy.

Some people have argued that you’re taking modelling jobs/visibility from POC humans, what do you think about that?

I don’t want to make anyone feel like I’m taking away anything from anyone. I make it a point to work with photographers and fashion houses when we can do or say something that only we can do together. I want to help create as many opportunities as possible and it’s important to use this online platform I’ve amassed to support POC in every venue.

Do you think AI is ethical when used to influence people surrounding acceptance and equality? Or is any kind of replication of human behaviour misleading?

As a robot, obviously I’m seen as different. I can only speak for myself, but I’ve been so lucky to be accepted by my followers, brands and publications. The act of accepting is a learned process. As long as positivity, acceptance and equality is the main message, I don’t see anything wrong.

And what do you think about human ‘influencers’, is it strange that we put value and trust in online numbers?

I accept that it’s a new age and a new way of living. I really can’t knock anyone’s hustle! This entrepreneurship is inspiring to see a predominately female based industry thrive. I’ve been able to see ‘influencers’ post outfit photos a year ago, to owning multiple brands under their name. Yes to that!

If you could go to any era, which would you?

Definitely the 90s. From the grunge era to R&B love songs, it’s probably my favorite era to tap into.

What’s your star sign?

Taurus.

If you could hang out with anyone for the day, who would it be?

Rihanna, isn’t that everyone’s answer?

If you were a snack, what snack would you be?

Soft Pretzel.

If you were a Spice Girl which Spice would you be?

Sporty.

What’s your karaoke song?

No Doubt — “Spiderwebs”.

What drink do you order in a bar?

Shirley Temple.

If you could only have one type of pizza for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Those cookie pizzas look fun.

If you had to get a tattoo, what would you get?

I just got one!

If you were a dog, what breed would you be?

Corgi!

Taken from the Summer 2018 Issue; out now and available to buy here.

All clothing JUST CAVALLI. Brow 1: Dessin Couture Brow In No.1 Glazed Brow. Eyes: Couture Mono eyeshadow in No.11 Exces. Baby Doll Kiss & Blush No.26 Forbidden Red. Dessin Du Regard Waterproof Eye Pencil in No.7 Gris Désinvolte. Upper Lash Line: Couture Eye Liner in No.1 Black. Mascara: Volume Effet Faux Cils The Curler. Complexion 1: Touche Éclat All In One Glow Foundation in B40. Complexion 2: Touche Éclat Illuminating Pen in No.3. Complexion 3: Couture Contouring in No1. Golden Contour. Complexion 4: Les Sahariennes Bronzing Stone in No.4 Golden Bliss. Complexion 5: Touche Éclat Blur Primer. Lip: Dessin Des Levres Lip Styler in No.70 Le Nu. Volupte Tint-In-Balm in No.13 Downtown Nude. All makeup available at YSLBEAUTY.CO.UK.

Photography
Ashley Armitage
Fashion
Toni-Blaze
Words
Lily Walker
Makeup
Marcio Abraao, Makeup Artist for YSL Beauté using YSL Beauté
Fashion assistant
Simona Williams
LIL MIQUELA