Shudu Gram, whom you see in the picture above, is the last model to be talked about. No wonder given this perfect skin, wicked lips and a prestance that would make the sales of any brand (and the libido of half the Globe) fly away.

Like any good top of our era, she is booming on Instagram – 110,000 subscribers in one year, who can say better? The one already chosen by Rihanna for her brand Fenty Beauty seems promised to the same great future as Jourdan Dunn and Gigi Hadid, with one exception: Shudu is the result of an algorithm. A 100% pixels supermodel…

When fashion flirts with avatars

The phenomenon embodied by Shudu is not entirely new. Although we have already known Gorillaz and their digital avatars for 20 years now, the Japanese went even further by creating Hatsune Miku — a sort of “digital singer” whose hits are derived from a program. For her 2013 tour, she proudly wore virtual outfits by Marc Jacobs. Dresses that she puts on again for her Vocaloid Opera, before being dressed by Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy three years later.

In the same vein, Nicolas Ghesquière, an assumed geek and fan of manga culture, surprised by choosing a character from the video game Final Fantasy as the face of his collection. Just for autumn / winter 2016, Lightningswapped her sword for LV monogrammed bags…

Influencers (almost) like others

The current trend goes beyond the simple muse status initiated a few years earlier. Shudu’s main rival, Miquela Sousa — known as Lil Miquela — reaches over a million followers. Despite less realistic features, she dominates the world of virtual trend setters. Also a singer, her track Not mine was even ranked 8th on Spotify’s Viral.

That said, she’s more than a pretty face. The link of her Instagram biography refers to the website of a charity fighting for girls of colour’s education. She supports the Black Lives Matter movement and defends the rights of transsexuals. Her male counterpart, Blawko 22, has also taken this path, speaking as much of his love for Supremeand Fornite as of homophobia.

A posture ultimately almost identical to that of figures in flesh and bone…

Lil Miquela pausing in Burberry. (Credits: Suman Jack for V Magazine) 

The future icons of a generation?

Even if these HTML idols are popular, they raise a few questions in passing. Although their political positions are laudable, we can still wonder about their share of influence… Models have often been criticized as imposing physical ideals beyond reach. In this case, what about those carried by digital creations, therefore proportionally “perfect”?

More broadly, fashion still has progress to make in terms of diversity. Therefore, wouldn’t a model like Shudu benefit from being replaced by a real black woman? Despite her artificial beauty, should it remain a marketing gimmick only? The debates are open… •

Hugh Hefner's and Donatella Versace's lovechild, I am the visible half of the duo behind ZACKARIUM. In love with fashion since I was in short pants, my mission is to guide you smoothly through the jungle of brands and catwalks.