Earlier this year, Kate Moss turned 40.
Amongst all of the ‘tributes’ ("40 pictures that prove Kate is STILL hot at 40!") there was palatable sense that, even after 25 years of relentless media attention, we still don’t have much of a clue who the supermodel is.
A product of the paparazzi-stalked nineties, Moss adopted the mantra ‘never complain, never explain’. Rather than give too much of herself away in interviews and have it twisted by the media, she kept silent, an approach that has brought her longevity in an industry defined by its fickleness.
2014, and the world is a very different place. Celebrities can be their own journalists now. Connecting with the public directly through the internet, they can tell their own stories, free from the distorting prism of the press.
And no model – hell, no celebrity – embodies this change like the heir to Moss’s throne, 21-year-old, Burberry, H&M, DKNY, Victoria’s Secret and now Topshop darling Cara Delevingne.
Discovered by Sarah Doukas – the same model scout who spotted 14 year old Moss in an airport – Cara has 1.7 million followers on Twitter, almost 6 million followers on Instagram, 1.2 million likes on Facebook (that old thing) and a Tumblr page that feeds all three with daily updates from her life.
And like other powerful young celebrities, she uses her personal media channels to by-pass the traditional press (not that it’s stopped Vogue and the rest putting her on their covers whenever possible) to give the world an unfiltered insight into to her life and personality.
All of which could, of course, backfire horribly. But spend a little time immersed in Cara’s world, and what emerges is a sweet, modest girl from London enjoying the ridiculously good hand life has dealt her, without letting it any of it go to her head.
And, in as far as you can trust anything on social media, you can trust that it's real. No PR management, no fusty old journalism spinning things one way or another. If Kate Moss is British modelling’s great enigma, Cara Delevingne is its open book.
With the deepest respect to Miss Moss, we’re sold on the new world order. Here’s just some of the reasons why this hyperactive posh girl with bushy eyebrows has completely won us over.
Much has been made of Cara's admirable refusal to pluck her eyebrows into the incredulous slither many women seem to feel obliged to have on their foreheads.
But what we most love is her trademark 'wonky eye' gag-face, the star of an endless stream of selfies. It has been said that one mark of a truly beautiful woman is being able to pull off a shaved head – we can now add 'moving one eye independently of the other and still looking gorgeous' to that list.
Little-known-but-brilliant fact: Cara appears as a radio presenter on GTA V, the biggest computer game of 2013.
She is the voice of Non-Stop-Pop FM, one of several channels you can flick through while driving through Los Santos.
Playing a hyper-active, mild parody of herself, she may not preside over the best music in game but it's a winning performance all the same.
From the lion on her finger to a sole stamp capable of bringing a tear to the eye of even the mildest patriot, Cara's taste in tattoos belies her age and makes the 'rebellious' inking of One Direction and the like look ridiculous by comparison.
Most celebrity 'BFF's leave you cringing your way to a face cramp, but there's something sweet about Cara's bond with her fellow social media goddess Rihanna.
Whether it's gloriously unstaged selfies, the odd cheeky bum squeeze or a night off hunting crabs, the pair seem to shrug off the eyes of the world, forget they're insanely famous and have fun together.
Which is cool.
In the Lazy Assumptions Handbook, it states there is no greater recipe for producing what society likes to call 'a stuck up cow' than taking a ridiculously beautiful 21-year-old from British aristocracy and thrusting her into a world of fame and fortune where she'll be fawned over and adored on a daily basis.
And yet. Check out this video, made by a gaggle of teenage Cara Delevingne super fans on the street in Paris. The model is accosted on her way to an appointment but poses for photos, chats amiably and even waits around for one of their friends to arrive, speaking to her on the phone when she fails to make it. All while eating cheesy puffs.
Not one to let a few Vogue covers go to her head, then.
The fashion world can seem cold and remote, a dog-eat-dog world of competing beauties where no one has time or cause to crack a (real) smile.
Cara's sense of humour cuts through all that nonsense. Viewed through her eyes, it's all one big sorority party.
Whether its posing with fellow models Joan Smalls and Karlie Kloss on Instagram with the caption 'Sleepover, snuggling, spooning, forking and all of the above!' (above) or playing a game of 'Guess That Ass' with a bunch of Victoria's Secret models (below), she makes the world of supermodels just a tiny bit less intimidating for the rest of us.
And eats it every day, apparently.
Not that we're particularly in need of any more meme-based wisdom ourselves (well, sometimes it doesn't hurt...), Cara doesn't just flood her considerable global audience with pictures of her fabulous life or messages from her sponsors.
With an eye on her millions of young fans, she also tries to spread a little of the good word. By which we mean messages of positivity and tolerance, not, y'know, God.
Bonkers, loopy, absolutely bat-shit – and we don't mean in that affected, 'I'M SO CRAY-ZEE!' way people sometimes adopt for attention (as if she needs anymore of that).
No Cara is, like all the best people in life, operating on a slightly different plane to the rest of us: not higher or lower exactly, just sideways a little.
For evidence, watch her Alternative Christmas message from 2013, in which she lifts weights in a unicorn onesie, dresses as a turkey, extolls the virtues of bacon-flavored lip balm and generally carries on like a child who has been locked in doors for three days on a diet of nothing but Skittles.
Or just join the rest of the world, and follow her on social media.