Airbrushing Size Zero

Karl Lagerfeld says only 'fat mummies' object to thin models

German designer claims objections to 'size-zero' models are driven by overweight women

Kate Connolly in Berlin, guardian.co.uk, Monday 12 October 2009 15.20 BST

Karl Lagerfeld, the eccentric German fashion tsar, has waded into the debate about size-zero models by saying that people want to look at "skinny models" and classing those who complain as "fat mummies".

Lagerfeld, 71, was reacting to the magazine Brigitte's announcement last week that it will in future use "ordinary, realistic" women rather than professional models in its photo shoots. He said the decision by Germany's most popular women's magazine was "absurd" and driven by overweight women who did not like to be reminded of their weight issues.

"These are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly," said Lagerfeld in an interview with the magazine Focus. The designer, who lost a lot of weight himself when he went on a strict low-carbohydrate diet several years ago, added that the world of fashion was all to do "with dreams and illusions, and no one wants to see round women".

At a time when the fashion world is starting to hit back at the claims that it encourages anorexia, the Hamburg fashion designer John Ribbe, a regular participant in the Paris fashion show, said the row over underweight models had become hysterical.

"It's just as much a cliché as saying that all models take drugs and get drunk at sex orgies," he said.

"Ninety per cent of them are quite normal, properly proportioned girls with less fat and more muscles, who also eat pizzas and burgers."

Brigitte's editor, Andreas Lebert, said that after years of having to "fatten up" pictures of underweight models with Photoshop, the magazine would produce its first edition with non-professional models on 2 January. "We will show women who have their own identity, the 18-year-old A-level student, the company chairwoman, the musician, the footballer," he said.

The decision follows a recent appeal by British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman to major fashion houses to end the "size-zero" culture, and a scandal over a Ralph Lauren advertising campaign in which a model had been thinned down using computer graphics.


Ralph Lauren has been forced to apologise, after airbrushing a model so much that her head was wider than her waist.

The image used in a recent advertising campaign for the brand's Blue Label jeans featured 21-year-old Filippa Hamilton. Already a slim size 8, the French model had been digitally retouched so much that she was left looking emaciated, and with a ridiculously small waistline.

The American label has now apologised for issuing the image: 'For over 42 years, we have built a brand based on quality and integrity. After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman's body.

'We have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the calibre of our artwork represents our brand appropriately,' the statement concluded.

The image first came to light on website Photoshop Disasters, after blog Boing Boing printed images of the advert spotted on Japanese billboards. The image sparked a war-of-words between the blogger and the fashion house, before Ralph Lauren admitted that the image had been their mistake.

Monday 12 October 2009, marieclaire.co.uk

Some examples of Photoshop Disasters from the blog.

Some of these disasters are created so that you look closer at the advert, knowing that something is wrong, and your brain attempts to put fit together the pieces, causing you to look at the advert for longer. This can be through extra fingers, lost legs or out of proportion heads and hands.

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