AI Makes Pictures Too Perfect, Even for a Fashion Magazine

A model walking a runway is seen from the waist down and an audience and photographers are viewed in the background.

Even fashion magazines, with heavily-curated and airbrushed aesthetics, are no match for the uncanny valley perfection of images generated using artificial intelligence. Take Copy Magazine as proof. The publication purports itself to be the world’s first AI fashion magazine.

Copy Magazine founder and creative director Carl-Axel Wahlström says the images were simply too perfect. He tells Insider that Copy‘s use of AI-made images doesn’t eliminate the need for heavy retouching at all, in fact.

“When it comes to fashion photography in general, you take a picture of someone and you make it more perfect than it actually was. In AI prompting and image making, we try to take the perfect AI image and deconstruct it so that it’s not that perfect,” Wahlström explains to Insider.

The experience of reading Copy is disorienting, according to Vogue‘s description, and intentionally so. The images in Copy Magazine evoke a similar ethos to those found within the pages of Vogue itself. Beautiful and pore-less models pose in front of breathtaking backgrounds, all dressed to the nines. The models’ hair is undone, but never too undone, or perfectly coiffed. There is no in between. It is exactly what one comes to expect when picking up a fashion magazine. This is also what seems to have a created a feedback loop of style, showcased by the AI generation results.

Wahlström tells Insider, “This is the image of beauty that we have been fed with through 20, 30, 40 years back.”

“I was struggling a lot with it in the beginning. Why is everything that I prompt, even though I write the opposite, it just becomes too perfect and too beautiful and too stereotyped? But I think that it was an important thing to also show that this is how we have seen beauty,” Wahlström adds.

He emphasized that AI does not make anything new, but instead regurgitates what is already out there. To Wahlström, this showed the need to move beyond repetition of the 80s and 90s fashions that cycle in and out of style.

“We have been looping these decades over and over and over again, and that made the AI very confused,” Wahlström tells Insider. “It says a lot about us, and I think this is really a warning flag to stop repeating, stop looking back, and try to move forward now.”

That lack of originality on AI’s part has also raised questions about copyright, creating a legally murky territory still being explored. It is the work of others that taught AI image generators, often without the permission of the original artists.

And Wahlström raises concerns with Insider about the breakneck with which AI image generation is moving and questions of ethics. But he seems to remain hopeful about the technology.

“It will democratize who actually can make a really great campaign,” Wahlström tells Insider. “I think that people will always take pictures. I think the AI technology is more just to be seen as another type of camera, not a replacement for the camera.”

Copy has one issued published so far, which is available to purchase online for 300 SEK, or $27 USD.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.