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Laila Blue, the Middle East's First Virtual Influencer

Is she perhaps realer than real?

You want her jacket, you covet her shoes, and you need her clutch. Her clothes can be bought and the locations she models them in can be visited, but… Laila Blue isn’t, well, quite real herself. Or is she?

The “virtual influencer” was recently featured in Grazia Middle East, where she is credited as the sole writer of the piece that is written in the first person. So, it’s not an article about Laila as such… the CGI personality actually wrote it herself. (CGI normally stands for “computer-generated imagery,” but in this case it could possibly mean “computer-generated influencer.”)

Laila’s article shows that she’s quite self-aware – and funny. “I know. Weird,” she says, “But don’t hate on me just because I’m different. (…) I do work. I’m a social-media manager for a pop-up art space in Al Quoz. Freelance, obviously.” She then goes on to poke a bit of fun at her circumstance: “Everyone deserves to feel accepted, even if they’re a robot, so it really gets me down when people troll me and call me fake… Like hello? Have you seen the rest of Instagram? At least I can write #nofilter and actually mean it.”

Laila Blue’s tagline is “Just me, myself and CGI,” and there’s plenty to explore here. Who created her, does that even matter, and what does this mean for brands and influencers in the future? Is the era of not just the supermodel but also the model a thing of the past? Even the relatively new title “influencer” might not be the best fit because, as Laila puts it, she’s “not into that label anymore… It seems a bit 2016 to me.” Instead she sees herself as more of a universal talent: “I think I’m more of a content creator or maybe even an artist.” 

Laila herself doesn’t appear to be all too concerned with looking back and analyzing the past but she does offer a bit of context as to where she came from. In her article she mentions growing up in the UAE and that she’s “half-French, half-Lebanese… and fully CGI. The first CGI influencer in the entire Middle East, in fact.”

The last statement is also a nod to other digital models and computer-generated influencers who have popped up earlier this year. Shudu Gram (@shudu.gram), for example, has modeled the ultra-successful Fenty Beauty cosmetics and Miquela Sousa, also known as Lil Miquela (@lilmiquela), has advertised for Prada. Shudu was invented by a photographer, that much is known, but Miquela’s creators are cloaked in secrecy. But either way, within a matter of a few short months, each one has gained more than a million followers on Instagram.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I could write a sonnet about this breakfast. Don’t worry, though. I won’t.

Une publication partagée par Laila Blue (@chasing.laila) le

 Laila Blue seems to be just is ambitious as her peers, and she is also intent on further blurring the lines between virtuality and the physical world when she mentions spending “loads of time” between the UAE, London, Paris, and Beirut and that she’s working on a T-shirt line and her art, which, as Laila says, addressing her budding fan base, “I can’t wait to share with you!”

Her Instagram handle @chasing.laila posted for the first time on 28 September and so far, Laila’s nine posts have reached her 323 followers (she herself following 100 accounts). But there’s something in the air, virtual and otherwise, that says these numbers are going to increase real soon for Laila Blue.

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