Cara Delevingne Is Finally Free

Cara Delevingne Is Finally Free

by Ana Escalante

Cara Delevingne is wearing a rainbow jumper. Or, a sweater for us Americans. She's dialing in from London, a place that's "sunny, and then pouring with rain about to storm," she says. A jumper is for those lazy, post-weekend mornings, perfect for tackling the pile of emails and projects the supermodel has been tackling over the last few months.

The multi-colored garb wasn't the first thing the 28-year-old actress and singer would have necessarily gravitated to a few years back. Delevingne used to wear all black. The model-off-duty color is easy for girls on the go, running from show to show during fashion month. But since openly identifying as pansexual after a Variety interview last year, rainbows, glitter, and sunshine seems fitting for the occasion.

"I feel as I get older, I'm much more embracing of colors and that sort of thing," she says. "I do feel more confident and proud as a person." As part of her latest collection with PUMA for Pride month, titled Forever Free, she's doing just that. The vibrant capsule collection of tees, hoodies, leggings, and staple PUMA kicks is set to raise a maximum of $500,000 dollars towards Delevingne's own foundation, a project of the Giving Back Fund, working with LGBTQIA+ charities like the Trevor Project and GLAAD.

Delevingne's sophomore pride collection with the athletic brand seems to be inspired by her own coming-of-age story of sorts, navigating her life as a queer woman in an industry that almost made her lose her creative passion for modeling a few years back.

It's emotional for Delevingne, watching her work be celebrated by the LGBTQIA community – an entirely different realm she didn't explore until she was much older. It wasn't until she had the courage to look inwards at her own self-love and acceptance that the world opened up.

"Life is meant to be questioned," Delevingne says, an unwavering conviction in her voice. "If you're having a bad day or you feel insecure or any of those things, just remember that you have everything that you need inside of you already."

PAPER sat down with model and actress to discuss her latest PUMA collaboration, the beauty of community, and her love of Elton John's campy aesthetics.

Starting off, what does Pride mean to you?

I think Pride, for me, is accepting wherever I am that day. As in, I am proud to be wherever I feel in that moment. Growing up, I didn't feel a lot of pride at all – I was quite scared. I was fearful. I was in hiding. I think many people in the community know what it's like to have to hide part of yourself. So to be proud is to really be able to feel free to shout from the rooftop, 'This is who I am, take it or leave it. I love myself.' And there is nothing anyone can do about it. I think that's truly inspirational and truly something I wish I had as a teenager, but how inspired I am by people and teenagers and young people who can do that.

With PUMA, how does this new collection fit into your everyday advocacy?

I think Pride unites everyone together to just lead with love and Forever Free fits into that. It's about finding a new family, finding people you love throughout your life, people who you learn from, and celebrating each other and celebrating love. You have to fight fear of identity and hate because that only tears us all apart.

I know that this isn't your first rodeo with PUMA. What excites you about this latest collection for Pride?

Right now we need celebration, we need togetherness, we need pride more than anything more than any time in the world. I think the whole world in this last year can now be connected fully because we've all shared a struggling experience that's been this pandemic. And I think this is a really fucking important time to feel that. It feels more mature, I suppose. I just hope people love it. It's for everyone.

In creating your own collection, I'm sure there's so many bits and pieces from your own life or from your fashion experience that you brought together. Where do you find that inspiration from?

There's a brilliant quote by Martha Graham, which really inspired me so much, which is, there is only one of you in all of time. It was about the phrases that were about being forever free, leading with that and leading with love. I am very unisex and like what I wear as clothes. So it's kind of like the cuts were always very important. As I got older, all I used to wear was black because it was easy. But if you could see my right now, I'm literally wearing a rainbow jumper – and not on purpose. [Laughs] I'm more comfortable in who I am and who I'm not. That was probably a big inspiration for me. It's always amazing because I think PUMA has such a brilliant way of taking what I think or what I feel and putting it and making it into something beautiful.

As your position in the fashion, modeling, film industry has grown significantly, how has that evolved your advocacy and the projects you align yourself with?

I didn't realize how important it was to me to embrace my own uniqueness. Through incredible brands like PUMA and jobs that I've been able to do, whether it be movies, or music or anything like that, I've learned to love that unique part of myself. That's all I want, to show the stories of people who never really get the chance to. For those people who grew up with people that may not love all those parts that make them unique, but they are not alone. There is a family out there, there is love out there to find. PUMA is doing a new program with the Trevor Project for LGBTQ youth athletes, which I think is incredible. Twenty percent of the proceeds from Forever Free go into my foundation, it just means the world to me that I can support LGBTQ+ youth. I've never felt more belonging and welcomed by a group of people in my life.

How was it being on set? Was this your first major project since lockdown?

It wasn't, but it was the first one I did where it was like 'Hey, is this work? I'm enjoying myself far too much.' Even with the masks and all the testing and everything else that was going on, it was just really fun. The music was playing, I was dancing around. I wish I was waiting for Pride, basically. I felt really proud to be myself and proud of the community and proud for how far everything's come.

We were talking a little bit earlier about your inspiration and creative process. So, I'm so curious to know, who's a Queer icon, dead or alive, you would love to design a pair of shoes with?

Oh my god. That's such a fucking good question. Can I say three different ones?

Let's do it.

Wait, they're all men though, that's weird. Hmm. Elton John would probably design a great pair of shoes. Elton John, Freddie Mercury, and… Oh! George Michael. Why am I not thinking of a woman though? Fucking hell. I can't remember. [Laughs]

We can come back to it! But I feel like those are pretty good choices. Fabulous shoes. I'd love to see those.

That's the thing! I was thinking more about the fabulousness, not that women aren't fabulous, but those three as different shoes would be so, so cool.

I know that 2020, along with the rest of the world, was a bit slow, and 2021 is allowing us to open back up. What's something in this new year you'd love to tackle?

I'm going back to Prague to finish off season two of my show on Amazon, Carnival Row, which will be so exciting because we've been obviously out of commission for way over a year now. I'm currently in development of a lot of projects, getting stuff made. I love now being on the production, writing side of projects, which is really, really cool. It's bringing light to voices and stories that haven't been told. I just kind of want to continue learning my craft getting better.

Cara Delevingne's PUMA Forever Free Pride Collection is available now, at the PUMA NYC Flagship store, and select retailers worldwide.

Photos courtesy of PUMA