Several times a year, usually when a publication aimed at older women or when a government is keen to prove its gender specific credentials, the issue of Photoshop within the fashion industry raises it head. Its use decried, magazines whose popularity is waining declare they’ll begin labelling airbrushed photos or stop using them altogether. A truth and a dishonesty in one – will they label photoshopped advertisements when it would mean losing the income altogether? Not a chance. And will they admit that a combination of skilled make-up artistry and clever lighting can be just as effective as Photoshop? Again, negative.
Yes, there are plenty of instances where photoshopping simply goes too far. All too often instances of models photoshopped to have impossible figures are put across our desk. A debate about letting amateurs control Photoshop’s range of tools is clearly warranted. What I’m not talking about, however, are those simpler touch ups. The sort that remove blemishes. The sort that remove wrinkles. The sort that you’ll see applied to Kate Moss in Valisere’s lingerie ad campaign. In this instance the touch-ups may be excessive (surely Ms. Moss has at least a freckle?), but it’s not deformative, not wholly removed from reality of plausibility. And yet it’s because of photo shoots such as these that the debate about the use of Photoshop attracts quasi-moralistic overtones. “It’s giving women a complex” will be the catch cry.
But it’s time for us to be honest in this debate. It’s time to refocus it. Come clean. It’s time to admit that we the public actually want Photoshop to be used. We want it to be excessive without being deformative. We want it to be transformative. We want Kate Moss to look 10 years younger than she really is.
At the heart of why we want Photoshop used are many complex issues best torn apart, analysed and explained by people with more post-nominals, and more of a love of Freud, than myself. But if we boil it down there are some truths that those who attempt to inflict themselves as our over-lords need to realise, and key amongst them is the fact that we already live in reality 24/7, thus don’t always want to consume it. We’re surrounded by it, constantly, and as we use cinema and fictional novels as a form of escape and as something to drive our imaginations, so too do we use fashion for our self-esteem. Those truly influenced by fashion use it not to reflect on who they are in the present, but to project who they want to be in the future, who they’re becoming.
That’s why there is nothing wrong with a de-aged Kate Moss. We know it’s not reality. But we also know it’s plausible. Hence we’ll, or rather the target demographic (myself not included), shall look at Kate Moss for Valisere, be tempted to indulge, and if that purchasing decision is made in their favour, feel all the better for it. They’ll feel younger, sexier. They’ll feel transformed.
Some will argue that that’s superficial, flawed, potentially even corrupting. I’d argue that they don’t understand the purpose of luxury fashion as an exploration and projection of the perfect lifestyle and, in turn, as a confidence booster.
There’s also a simpler point to be made as to why Photoshop should be used as such, and it’s best illustrated by a combination of Madonna and Photoshop. Simply put: faced with reality (left) and Photoshop (right), which would you rather see?
See all the pictures of Kate Moss for Valisere lingerie by clicking on the thumbnails below. Or leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts on the role of Photoshop within fashion.