I don’t mean to be the old person in the corner ranting about how social media has changed everything, but in the area of fashion, models, and beauty, it has definitely moved into uncharted territory.
There are more than a few self-appointed experts and “influencers” duping a generation of business people who aren’t as knowledgeable on social media as they could be because they are understandably busy reading the balance sheets.
A recent experience put it into gobsmackingly obvious perspective. I was producing a shoot and the female talent requested that we use her preferred hair and makeup people.
I asked her agent if I could see the makeup artist’s portfolio, which would normally consist of a largish body of quality editorial and commercial work.
Instead, I was instead sent a photocopy of a business card that had a name, the words ‘international makeup artist” and an Instagram handle. When I looked at the Instagram account, I was aghast.
She had posted lots of photos of her victims, both well known and not. She had no editorial work, no creative projects. Everyone she had practiced on looked exactly alike, that Kylie Jenner hybrid of false eyelashes, contouring streaks, overdrawn eyebrows and over plumped limps. She looked like that herself.
It was the most garish makeup work I’d ever seen. She must have watched a few YouTube beauty vloggers, practiced on herself and had a whole bunch of business cards printed at Vistaprint.
I called the agent who was surprised that I had used a telephone. “I can’t book her,” I said. “She’s a pretty bad makeup artist”.
“Whatever do you mean?” he said, genuinely surprised. “She’s fab. She’s got lots of followers”.
And there we have it. Genuine skill has become irrelevant (as has my opinion). It bothers me when people can’t see the difference.
A similar situation came up a few days later. A friend asked my opinion about an influencer who had been asking for money to promote his skincare line.
“He’s a big deal, he’s got 200,000 followers and he’s doing Dior campaigns,” he said. I raised a cynical eyebrow, as I asked him to pass me his phone because last time I looked my neighbour’s Pomeranian had a lot of followers too.
I checked the Instagram account and watched a clunkily edited home video, with a kind-of-good-looking-but-not-really poser in the shower doing his best Blue Steel impersonation, with interspersed product shots, set to cheesy music.
“It’s not a Dior campaign,” I said to my friend. “He just tags his posts to infer that, but it’s not legitimate.” My friend was perplexed because there’s not a lot of time to spot the social media frauds when you’re managing a multi-million dollar business.
Anyway, I think the Pomeranian would get more likes.