“I’m so glad we’re going to this together,” says Madeline Argy, looking down at her phone to determine how far our Lyft driver is. “I’m so awkward at these things.” It’s 8:30 p.m. in Midtown on the Friday night of New York Fashion Week, and the 23-year-old internet sensation is due downtown at the East Village hotspot Ella Funt for HighSnobiety’s private dinner. She’s worried that we’re late (slightly, but it’s Fashion Week so it doesn’t count) and that her skirt’s too short (it’s not). Her shirt, however, is completely sheer; she laughs when I point out the irony of her concern. “Fair,” she concedes.
Argy thrives in this gray area, a contradiction that somehow makes sense. She’s become a celebrity by being a modern-day everywoman; a girlfriend who keeps you posted on her every life move, as well as a glamorous jet-setter who pouts in Valentino and attends private parties for Olivia Rodrigo. She’s shy, but she posts 30-minute YouTube videos speaking direct-to-camera about relationship woes. “It’s not my forte to just walk into a room and make myself known,” she explains in the car ride downtown. “I’ll just hide until someone comes up to me.” Arriving at the dinner, we make a beeline to the bar, ordering two glasses of white wine (her drink of choice) and make small talk with a crowd that includes fashion writers, downtown artists, and actors like Chase Sui Wonders and Rachel Sennott. One of the magazine’s cover stars follows Argy on Instagram, and they start talking as I’m pulled into a conversation about Peter Do’s debut at Helmut Lang. After 40 minutes pass, I realize Madeline hasn’t returned to our table. Thinking back to our earlier conversation, I worry she’s made an Irish exit before I find her at the bar. She’s deep in a new conversation, and ready to hit the after-party.
It’s this kind of enigmatic quality that first drew Alexandra Cooper of Call Her Daddy to the British creator — first as a fan, and then as a boss. “Madeline has this ability to keep you so engaged that you can’t help but continue to watch,” Cooper tells me. “She’s truly so unique of a talent and I’m so happy she’s on board as UNWELL talent.” Argy, along with fellow viral sensation Alix Earle, was the first talent signed to the UNWELL Network, Cooper’s recently launched subsidiary under the media company TRENDING, which she founded with fiance Matt Kaplan. On Monday, Sept. 25, Argy will debut her new podcast, Pretty Lonesome, under Cooper’s tutelage. “It’s really lonely to be in your 20s sometimes,” Argy says. “And this podcast is a space to feel less lonely.”
Over the last few years, Argy has made an art out of the idea of being alone. In March 2021, while in university and living on the outskirts of London, she posted her first TikTok. It’s an 11-second video of Argy in bed, wiggling her nose at the camera and raising her eyebrows. In the years since, she’s graduated from university, with plans to move to London in the very near future. Her content has also evolved, with her mile-a-minute stream-of-consciousness way of talking to the camera about whatever’s on her mind attracting millions of followers. (“Motor Mouth” was the original name of the podcast until Cooper pointed out that a non-Argy fan might think it’s actually about cars, and that it wasn’t cute enough to put on a T-shirt. “[She was] so f*cking right. It’s not marketable,” Argy says. “I wasn’t thinking about merch.”) Today, she has more than 235 million likes across her platforms, with her TikToks receiving an average of 6.1 million views from devoted viewers and random FYP lurkers. (This new fame is not without controversy, though; earlier this summer, Argy faced backlash after posting a video saying that she used to tell people that she wanted to “live in a Sundown town,” not knowing what the term meant. She has since taken down the video and apologized.)
With Pretty Lonesome, Argy is navigating how to maintain this intimacy with her listeners, while still taking the time to think about what she wants to say. She thinks of her listeners as what she calls “errand friends.” “They’re the friends you text at 10 o’clock at night and they’re like, ‘Should we go to the shop and walk around?’” she says. It’s the friend you don’t have to get dressed up for or make small talk with; a stress-free companionship. “You’re going places, but you’re in your sweats, and it’s just comfy,” she says. “I love errand friends. They’re the only friends I f*cking want.” Argy hopes the podcast will be a weighted blanket for her peers, voicing concerns and anxieties that so many of them are also feeling. “This is not an advice podcast,” she stresses. “I don’t have any advice.”
What Argy does have is the universal struggle of dating in your early 20s. Last year, the internet deduced that Argy was dating Central Cee, a popular London rapper with 9 million followers of his own. Though the two never publicly commented on their relationship, Argy had fun teasing her viewers with the occasional just-off-camera cameo or unseen male voice. “From the get-go that was private, and really that only went out publicly because people discovered it,” Argy says of the relationship. “I could have done more to squash it than I did. We posted that one video where we were together in my kitchen, which was intentional obviously. I think we wanted to play on it, and make it something funny, and be like, ‘Right. Here you go. Now shut up.’” The two have since split, she confirms. “It’s not really a bad breakup,” she adds. “It’s more of a joyous situation for me.” Whether she’ll talk about it on the podcast, however, is a question she’s still grappling with herself. “Obviously there’s two people in a relationship, so it’s not just mine to sit and be like, ‘This happened,’” she says. “I will talk about experiences, it’s tricky. When people catch on that a relationship is over, if I sit there and say, ‘Oh my ex this, my ex that,’ maybe I’m talking about an ex from three years ago. So, I need to watch my mouth a bit and specify. But there’s lessons to be learned in every situation, and I feel like it’s a shame to not talk about those. But it doesn’t mean that you have to shed a negative light on something that was good.”
Luckily, she has a master class at her disposal in the form of Cooper, who perfected the art of oversharing while keeping her significant other’s identity a mystery. The two have been working closely together to hone in on the vision of Pretty Lonesome, on everything from format to branding opportunities. “With Alex, she’s had my best interest in mind, and she’s secretly looked out for me even when I didn’t know. I feel like that’s such a signifier that someone actually has the right intention,” she says. She’s also forging a new friendship in fellow Cooper protege Earle, whose own podcast Hot Mess is out now. “I think a lot of people think that I don’t have friends, which, to be fair, is because I don’t have friends in the industry,” she says. “But I would like more of them. It’s nice to have people that get what’s going on and can give that perspective. Alex Earle is definitely someone I wouldn’t usually get to be around, because I am not timid but I probably gravitate towards more quiet people. She’s literally Serena van der Woodsen,” she continues. “I’m a bit of a hermit. I need to be forced out of my comfort zone and meet people.”
Hours later, well past midnight, and at our second location of the night (third if you count the raucous party bus that chauffeured us from dinner to the after-party at Hotel Chelsea), I’ve lost Argy. I eventually find her just off the main room, and despite her trepidations about the night, she has no plans of leaving as I say goodbye. She’s not deep in the crowd, but she’s still in the mix; holding court on a plush couch with a group of five or so friends. They’re talking animatedly over glasses of wine. I can’t hear what they’re saying over the thumping bass, but knowing Argy, I’m pretty sure we’ll all hear all about it on Spotify next week anyways.
Top Image Credits: Calle Del Mar top
Photographs by Hannah Sider
Styling by Stephanie Sanchez
Hair: Clay Nielsen
Makeup: Ashley Webb
Photo Director: Alex Pollack
Editor in Chief: Lauren McCarthy
SVP Fashion: Tiffany Reid
SVP Creative: Karen Hibbert