Poppy Delevingne lives to love. “I love modeling,” says the London-born New York-based beauty. “Adore it. I love the traveling, the people I meet, the artistic side to it. I love fashion. I love wearing clothes. “I love the electric atmosphere of New York,” she continues. “I love that people are always up for anything. I love the quirky restaurants. I love the shopping. I love the little vintage-y places in the Village. I love Bleecker Street. I love Barneys—it’s my favorite department store. And I love how cheap everything here is at the moment. I can’t buy anything in London ever again. “I love the roof at Soho House on the weekends and I love the boathouse at Central Park,” she adds, the words tumbling out. “My sister and I rowed around the lake and then had lunch there. Heaven.” The 22-year-old’s natural-born ebullience has propelled her to the front of the pack of a new breed of scenemakers, girls who are as personable as they are beautiful, who work as hard as they play and who are increasingly being tapped by fashion and beauty companies to promote their wares as brand ambassadors. They’re well-born, well-educated and well-connected—Delevingne, for example, attended a posh British boarding school, stayed in the Duchess of York’s apartment when she first came to New York and is one of Tatler magazine’s 10 most eligible girls in the world. “These girls have different backgrounds and unique personalities,” says Peter Knell, a manager at IMG Models. “Each has in some way been behind a movement, be it a style movement, a cultural movement or design. They’re influencing pop culture.”
In addition to Delevingne, the new crop of go-to girls includes Harley Viera-Newton, a 19-year-old NYU student (she’s studying Egyptology)-slash-DJ who has been named Dior Beauty’s in-house DJ; Julia Restoin Roitfeld, the daughter of French Vogue editor Carine, who oversees her own art directing company when she isn’t starring in Tom Ford’s fragrance ads, and Leigh Lezark, whose role as founding member of the Misshapes has morphed into that of overall tastemaker. There’s also Lydia Hearst, the publishing heiress/model/actress/Page Six magazine columnist; Maggie Betts, daughter of developer Roland Betts and a staple in the pages of Vogue; Vanessa Traina, daughter of Danielle Steele, fashion muse to young designers and French Vogue intern, and Byrdie Bell, a Chicago-born socialite turned-actress. “The difference between models, celebrities and these girls is that these are people the fashion industry can take to heart,” says Richard Habberly, who runs the Elite + division of Elite Models.