Everyone is welcome in Olivier Rousteing's #Balmain Army, a brand committed to diversity. The latest extension of the #Balmain Army includes CGI models (computer generated imagery). Rousteing worked with Cameron-James Wilson, the CGI artist and photographer behind Fenty Beauty's controversial Shudu model.
Controversy surrounded Shudu when she made her debut in March of 2018. With social media saying the unknown Shudu was just a little too perfect, Wilson explained to the clamoring crowds: ""Basically Shudu is my creation, she’s my art piece that I am working on at the moment. She is not a real model unfortunately, but she represents a lot of the real models of today. There’s a big kind of movement with dark skin models, so she represents them and is inspired by them. Obviously some models like Duckie (Thot) were definitely big inspirations for her as well."
Refinery 29 has followed the story from its inception, writing: "This did not sit well with people, who believe Shudu represents a lot more than one man's digital art project. The news of her non-existence has triggered an online backlash, with people quickly pointing out how problematic it is that she, a Black woman, was created by a white man and "hired" instead of an actual Black model, a demographic that remains underrepresented in the fashion and beauty industries."
We will add that the CGI models now join sex robots as idealized female creations of the male mind. It's an interesting philosophical consideration in the evolution of fashion and female models.
Shudu now joins two Balmain-exclusive, digital supermodels Margot and Zhi. In their first campaign, the trio are promoting the Balmain Bbox bag. Rousteing told Refinery 29 that Margot was the "French girl of his childhood dreams," while Zhi is "a Chinese beauty with a really short haircut."
Paper Magazine doesn't take this evolution in stride at all. "The new virtual troops reflect the same beautiful diverse mix, strong confidence and eagerness to explore new worlds," Balmain had to say of their new synthetic approach in a statement we will surely all look back on as the beginning of the end for humanity. All hail our new AI influencer overlords!
AOC notes that unemployed, aging fashion illustrators may toast this new evolution in using imagination and artistry -- not living, breathing women creatures -- in ad campaigns. Clearly Balmain has unleashed -- following Fenty's lead -- a controversial evolution in the world of models. Innovation cannot be contained, and it seems that balance will determine how fashion embraces this latest group of fashion sisters.