‘It’s an Industry of Its Own’: Léna Situations’ Recipe for Success

To the question: “What do you like about Léna?” Maywene, 15, in a black tracksuit, content to answer: ‘Ask me what I don’t like, it will go faster! On August 2, a high school student was one of the first to step on the entrance to the Mahfouf Hotel, an ephemeral concept store opened in the 17th arrondissement by Léna Mahfouf, better known as Léna Situations. And to get that privilege, you had to get up early. “I arrived just before eight in the morning,” she breathes, looking at her watch, which now appears at 4 in the evening.

Even though she’s finished shopping – a green hoodie and a key ring, both named “Ruffled Hotel” – the teen plans to stay tuned for her role model, who should arrive at any moment. “He is an example for me and many other young people. With her videos, she saved me from my discomfort. She said with bright eyes. The Mahfouf Hotel is open from August 2 to September 1. These dates are not chosen at random: since 2017, the influencer has published “her blogs Famous during this period. The videos reminiscent of her daily life, which she publishes every day on her YouTube page, reach 2.35 million subscribers.

While Maywene made it to the store, not all fans did. In the queue, several hundred people are still waiting, + = + (Léna’s emblem) drawn on the cheek, or tattooed on the body. Not everyone will be able to return. The lucky ones will only see their idol getting out of his black van and waving to the rave crowd. “He’s a rock star,” says Loc Prigent, director of several fashion documentaries and friend of Léna. “I haven’t seen anyone take that long to get into a parade, so a lot of people were staring at her. Now when I come with her, I follow her live and I know she’ll join me later,” he jokes.

“It goes against the flow because it shows itself as it is.”

Loc Prigent discovered Léna specifically by accidentally running into a vlog from August several years ago. It was instantly love at first sight. “I found it cool, funny, spontaneous, and unique. It really stood out.” He, who has been in the fashion world for 25 years, wanted to take her to a parade in order to get a “sharp but fresh look”. This was Balmain’s March 2020 show, and it was Léna’s first show. At first, I had to convince some houses to invite him. Those who said ‘no’ to me at that time laughed, and bit their fingers, and now they say ‘yes’ to everything.

To explain her success, many refer to the “sympathetic” character of Lena. “To me, it brings some authenticity, analyzes Stephanie Lukasek, PhD in communication sciences. Unlike some influencers – especially in fashion – it goes against the trend because it shows itself as it is, making it easier for audiences to identify.” Julie, 19 , who met in the queue at the Al Mahfuf Hotel, confirms:” She does not pretend. There is really a difference between her and others. She is normal, she showed us anxiety attacks … She is a “real person”. I feel close to her. »

“She’s a rock star.”

It’s a bit like a good friend that you want to pursue. “This natural state that she was able to convey is her strength. Highly successful content creators are those who live in everyday life, like Norman in his early days. There is this definition: it’s what people want,” confirms Stephanie Lukasek.

At adidas, when it comes to talking about Léna, the brand’s inspiration, we also highlight her “creativity, her sense of humor, her sense of style, as well as her public speaking commitments”. “She is not afraid to show her truth, through thick and thin. […] She is determined and does not give up… She is very inspiring,” explains her spokesperson.

“She’s a very good storyteller, I think she also exploded for that”

But her unbridled success is due not only to her scandalous character. According to Loïc Prigent, his “talent for storytelling” also has something to do with it. “People, when they go to fashion shows, just post a ‘first row’ picture and that’s it. Léna will report what she saw, and she will analyze things. She posts fashion, while still being friendly and doesn’t look down on anyone. It’s rare. To create her own videos, the young woman has repeatedly declared that she draws inspiration from American youtubeur Casey Neistat, known for her dynamic and meticulous vlogs. “She is a very good storyteller. I think it’s also exploded for that, says the youtubeur, who specializes in analyzing the audiovisual world of Hardisk, in his video “Why are Léna positions so effective?”, Bulletin in 2020.

Each of his videos will be created according to the “Story Circle,” an eight-step story and screenplay developed by Dan Harmon, co-founder of “Rick and Morty.” To create a good story in a story or movie, a character has to go through several stages in order for us to feel connected. “You have a character that you can identify with. But whoever has needs, dreams, and a sense of being incomplete, pushes him to go to a new stage where the story changes. He throws himself into challenges, looking for something. He finds what he seeks, satisfied or not,” explains Dan Harmon. In a video clip, what he found “kicks his ass” and returns to the world he left after being changed.

Each of his videos will be made according to a “story circle”, writing the story and script in eight steps.

Thus, “what could simply be an animated vlog, for example, is actually the enormous human adventure of this young girl, who finds herself leaving her family’s cocoon, to begin a real adult life. […] It’s a new way of telling stories. You no longer need to watch a movie or series to have a little adventure with someone,” says Hardisk. Using this technology, Léna Situations doesn’t just photograph her life: she creates her world, with different heroes, and takes scenes with her—which, as in Too many series, you’ll get addicted and you’ll want more.

Media empire

You might think that the production team supports the influencer to produce all of this content. It is not. “Léna does work that few have any idea about. Normally, it takes multiple people to manage an Instagram account, TikTok, Snap, YouTube channel… She does everything herself, from framing to editing. She has an ‘orchestral guy’ side.” Honestly, I don’t know how she does it,” insists Loïc Prigent, who says he is “fascinated” by his “self-production”. “It has built a media empire from home, it is an industry in its own right. It is in the process of developing a unique model in France and the world.”

The self-produced “girlboss” aspect is respected by her community, who admire her and take inspiration from her recent successes: her book “Always more” (sold 274,000 copies in 2020), her presence at the MET Gala, and her magazine covers… “I see myself in everything She makes it. She always goes above and beyond,” says Julie, who met her in front of a fraught hotel.

Lina inside Mahfoof Hotel, August 2, opening day | © Tiziano Da Silva / Bestimage

Brands also know the impact they can have on a product’s image and sales. “She is the most directive content creator. For example, when she wears the white Miu Miu bag, sales go up,” adds Loïc Prigent. The numbers speak for themselves. According to Media Impact Value, the algorithm used “to measure the impact of placements and mentions on various platforms in the fashion, luxury and cosmetics sector,” Léna Situations reportedly brought in $4.72 million for Dior. Well, the world’s most influential influencers.

“Léna Mahfouf has conquered worlds that are usually very unified and closed”

Like anyone who has been exposed on social networks, Léna Situations also knows the violence of the Internet. Ever since she saw her community grow, she’s been the target of regular harassment – for her haircut, the vegan menu served at a precarious hotel, her absence from the Ballon d’Or… These harassments happen online but also in real life. In one of her recent videos, she recounts how netizens found her mother’s address, threw eggs on her mop, called the intercom for hours on end, and left messages full of insults directed at her daughter. She also recounts the effect this hate had on her mental health.

According to a national survey by Ipsos, published last February, cyber violence is above all an expression of structural violence against certain social groups: women and people with racism are at the fore. “Thanks to her work and her use of social networks, Léna Mahfouf has conquered worlds that are usually very unified and closed: cinema, fashion, publishing and analytics Joanna Kairis, co-founder of Collectif féministes contre le Cyberharcèlement, who participated in the exploratory study. She did not go through the stages that supposedly To be a befriending which, too often, does not allow minorities to be a part of. At 24, the young woman pays a heavy price for her success and notoriety. “But even that, she has managed to turn her into a force!” concludes Loïc Prigent. There is something One sure thing: We can’t wait to see what’s next.

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