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CLOSING UP SHOP?: A proposed law in France that could require all retouched photos to be labeled as such is being met with a mostly indignant reaction from the fashion crowd, but also igniting debate about Photoshop’s pitfalls. Valerie Boyer, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party, and some 50 other politicians proposed the law this week partly to combat what they see as warped images of women’s bodies that encourage eating disorders. The proposed law — not yet included in the calendar of discussions planned by France’s Assemblée Générale — would cover advertising, press photographs, political campaigns, art photography and images on packaging.
“The camera has always lied and always will,” commented Tony Chambers, editor in chief of Wallpaper and a former art director of British GQ. “These things should always be taken with a pinch of salt. Fantasy and artistic interpretation are core ingredients in fashion, advertising and art photography.” Marc Ascoli, who has art directed campaigns for brands including Yohji Yamamoto, Jil Sander and Chloé, said he finds the idea of slapping health warnings on fashion campaigns almost comical. “It’s so arbitrary,” he said. “It’s clear that there have been abuses. Sometimes heads are completely transformed. They’ll change the model’s eye color and hair. Sometimes I have the impression I’m looking at a window dummy. But there is such a global commercial pressure for perfection.”
Katie Grand, editor of the Condé Nast title Love, the launch issue of which had the very fleshy Beth Ditto on the cover, agreed. “I think that magazines overall are becoming glossier and glossier and because of retouching, photographers’ work is becoming more homogenized,” she said. “And, looking at magazines, you often see who’s done the retouching before you figure out who the photographer is. With Love, I am trying to use more personalities — rather than models — and don’t want to retouch too much. And when we do retouch it has to do with color tones rather than the model’s body.”
Asked about the reaction to the Boyer proposal from glossy magazines, parliamentary attaché Julien Ravier told WWD feedback has been mixed. “Gossip magazines, which use paparazzi photos of celebrities, are favorable. Other publications, like Elle, are against it,” he added. A spokeswoman for Elle, which earlier this year got buzz for running photos of celebrities including Monica Bellucci and Charlotte Rampling with no makeup or retouching, declined to comment.
— Elena Berton and Samantha Conti