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.”
This story first appeared in the September 24, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
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
LAGANI LEAVES: After two years at Glam Media as head of client sales, Joe Lagani is leaving for iVillage, where he will be senior vice president of ad sales. Lagani joins iVillage following a relaunch that includes a new entertainment section. Big changes are also ahead for the beauty, health, home, family and food sections. Prior to Glam, Lagani served as vice president and publisher of House & Garden.
As Lagani leaves Glam behind, the fashion- and lifestyle-oriented ad network is joining the Twitter juggernaut. On Tuesday the company announced Ticker News, a Web tool for tracking real-time conversations on Twitter and Facebook about news events reported by media outlets such as Reuters. It’s part of Tinker, also updated Tuesday, a site for searching all kinds of Tweets and status updates and conversations on Facebook. The company also makes a Tinker widget, which can be embedded in a Web page to show a stream of conversation on Twitter and Facebook about any topic, such as Fashion’s Night Out or Lindsay Lohan joining Ungaro.
— Amy Wicks and Cate T. Corcoran
THE BEST OF THE BEST: Rather than choosing themselves, the American Society of Magazine Editors turned to Amazon.com to choose this year’s best magazine covers — visitors to the Web site could vote on their favorites. Magazines were divided into 10 categories and included the Best Obama cover category, since the President has been featured on a wide swath from Men’s Health to Time. Elle’s December 2008 cover was nominated sexiest cover, thanks to Carrie Underwood, who “in a moment of apparent ecstasy yields a surprisingly sexier vibe in someone whose image up to then had been nothing but wholesome.” Vanity Fair’s January 2009 cover with Tina Fey was named best entertainment and celebrity cover; Harper’s Bazaar’s March 2009 with cover model Sarah Jessica Parker won best honors in the fashion and beauty category, and New York’s cover featuring an image of Bernie Madoff as The Joker got readers’ vote for best news and business cover. Amazon.com customers through Sept. 30 will pick one overall best cover from the 10 category winners; that winner will be revealed Oct. 14 during the Magazine Innovation Summit, a scaled-down local version of the annual two-day industry conference that usually takes place in Boca Raton, Fla., or similar climes.
— Stephanie D. Smith
WHY BUY THE MILK…?: How much content should publishers offer for free online — a titillating sample of a story or book, just enough for readers to clamor for more? Or open up an entire Web site or news source? That’s what panelists debated Tuesday night at 4 Times Square during an event hosted by New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies Center for Publishing. Gary Hoenig, ESPN’s general manager/editorial director; Macmillan Publishing chief executive officer John Sargent, and Alan Murray, deputy managing editor and executive editor online of The Wall Street Journal, debated with Wired editor in chief Chris Anderson over how to stay relevant in a media world where thought leaders and the conversations they lead are moving online, while making money from their content. For Anderson, offering book content online keeps books relevant in a digital environment, while free excerpts or samples can draw in potential buyers for the entire manuscript. When he offered his latest book, “Free: The Future of a Radical Price,” for free online, the title was downloaded 500,000 times in one week. But Sargent was more hesitant, believing that while offering free content for a book could spur short-term sales, demand would short circuit in the long run.
Accessible content is also beneficial in helping editors figure out what content to cover offline, said Murray, who explained morning editorial meetings at the Journal now start with talking about which stories are most popular online, most Googled or Tweeted, instead of the page one editor dictating which pieces to run. “Part of the beginning of my daily process is getting feedback from the 5,000 people I’ve never met,” he said. Tracking traffic numbers, comments and search terms is key for any news outlet to produce quality journalism that readers will consume — and pay for. To ignore those figures, said Murray, is “silly stupid, and suicidal.” Hoenig said ESPN’s online subscriptions have doubled since it upgraded its online content; WSJ.com boasts one million subscribers to its pay site. But if the unedited, microblog site Twitter started charging for its access, would the panelists pay? “I would,” said Anderson. “Nope,” said Hoenig. As for Sargent, “I don’t carry a cell phone now!”