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The Game-Changing Models of the Future

The Game-Changing Models of the Future

Instagram superstar Miquela Sousa is one of many new CGI Influencers to hop on the scene. Photo  via

Instagram superstar Miquela Sousa is one of many new CGI Influencers to hop on the scene. Photo via

People used to say that models were either born to model or shaped into models, but now in the age of technology-aided fashion, could it be possible for a new wave of muses to be conceived via…programming? It certainly seems with the advances in computer design and AI technologies that we’ve been able to achieve just that. In the past year, fashion has seen an explosion of insanely realistic computer generated models taking the fashion industry by storm. And though they may seem comically adorable or downright creepy, they may be the start of a completely new way of looking at fashion.

Take for instance, CGI influencer Noonoouri who recently appeared in the Pre-fall lookbook for Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini. In the past year, her wide-eyes and doll-like physique have captured the hearts of designers and fans alike, earning her brand deals, magazine editorials and hundreds of thousands of followers. It’s completely unreal… and so is she! Outside of the screen, she doesn’t even have a physical body, and yet within the confines of the online world, she’s reached the point of celebrity status. And though her appearance and presence may at times seem rather gimmicky, the benefits of hiring a CGI model can be monumental: garments will look pixel perfect; there’s no need for a hair or makeup team and designers are essentially guaranteed immediate viral success on nearly every social media site in the world.

Despite the apparent “perfection” of a CGI model, there comes the ethical conversation that we all need to think about. In my opinion, it’s the crossover between Black Mirror and America’s Next Top Model that nobody asked for, where the net benefit of hiring a CGI Model may outweigh that of a working human model. Why bother putting the funds in for a photoshoot team, when you could save big by programming a picture perfect muse for any campaign? An influx of virtual girls would be the antidote to modeling (and to a certain extent, fashion photography, makeup and hairstyling) as a profession altogether, and though it would be a monumental shift in the fashion and beauty industry, it essentially eliminates an entire job market with a few clicks on a keyboard.

CGI Models in the Balmain Pre-Fall 2018 lookbook from left to right: Margot, Shudu and Zhi. Programmed by  Cameron James Wilson.  Photo via   the Independent

CGI Models in the Balmain Pre-Fall 2018 lookbook from left to right: Margot, Shudu and Zhi. Programmed by Cameron James Wilson. Photo via the Independent

Then comes the discussion on the supposed “programmable beauty” aspect of the trend. Perhaps not as explicit with Noonoouri, who is programmed to appear more like a cartoon character rather than a human, but looking at more photo-realistic influencers like Shudu Gram and Nfon Obong, designed by photographer Cameron James-Wilson, it’s clear that human aesthetics can be achieved artificially in an instant. It’s one thing to have creative control over things like makeup and styling and set, but to be able to completely create a model from scratch puts a lot of power in one person’s hands and takes the issue of unrealistic beauty standards to a whole different level.

At this point, I’m not sure if the world is ready for this wave of CGI models to stake their claim in the industry. Sure, they have an aspect of novelty and innovation that fashion always seems to seek out, but the broader ethical implications of prioritizing digitally-born beauties is a little more complex. While I can say that it would be super cool to see the world’s first VR Runway Show or Noonoouri rocking Prada to the Met Ball, I’d have to say that this episode of Black Mirror should probably wait a few more centuries before its premiere… though I suspect its debut is approaching faster than we think.


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