Photoshop Handsome: How the Digital Retouch Became the Trend to Watch

Digital editing company, Rare Digital Art, have recently released videos detailing exactly how images used in fashion promotion have been transformed. The videos present condensed versions of image transformations that would usually take hours in a digital studio, but have revealed the true extent and impact of airbrushing in today’s fashion industry.


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Rare Digital Art have worked with everyone from H&M to Vogue, retouching images to ensure that their subjects look up to scratch for fashion industry standards. But, the question needs to be asked, if it takes hours of editing and hundreds of pounds worth of software, how is this standard in any sense realistic or, indeed, fair on the consumer? The general public are exposed to retouched picture upon retouched picture, and are left wondering why it is that they don't look as effortlessly flawless on a day to day basis. Unfortunately, editing software has not yet reached a point at which we can digitally retouch our own bodies before we leave the house for the day, so being faced with these apparently perfect images is still quite affecting. Airbrushing is no secret. We all know it happens. But there is a lack of transparency surrounding the topic which needs to be dealt with.




Founder and head of retouching at the firm, Elizabeth Moss, states that the videos are attempts to convey just how the deceptive the industry can be. It’s a tricky line to walk. In advertising – especially fashion advertising – perfection sells. It’s manipulative, unscrupulous but, nevertheless, true. In order to create demand, companies need to be generating ideals; they need to give the impression that, through buying their product, we can become something more than ourselves. The same concept can be extended to celebrity, or to modelling. These people on the front covers of magazines or on the catwalks need to be seen to have something superhuman about them, or else what’s the point in them being there? The whole notion of the celebrity or the super model would be destabilised if their normality was allowed to surface.


Airbrushing prevents an acceptance of normality, and the worlds of celebrity and advertising are purposefully removed from anything resembling the norm. So perhaps it is this phenomenon that needs to change. Media and fashion industries are intent on playing on people’s insecurities for their own gain. Not only do the products being promoted have to be beautiful, but the people promoting them do too. Particularly with fashion, as ‘being a model’ is now inextricably linked with ‘being a celebrity’, both garment and wearer have to look exquisite before being let loose for public consumption. Remember when fashion was just about clothes? Nope, it’s getting pretty difficult.




Hannah Ellison

Brighton Fashion Week blogger