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Photoshopped Fashion: How 27 Countries Define Style Today
“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only,” as the late, great French fashion designer Coco Chanel once put it. “Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
Every country defines style in its own unique, ever-changing way. Most of us barely even notice our tastes and ideals being inspired by what we see around us.
Here at Groom+Style, we decided to take a closer look at just what those definitions of style are around the world. Specifically, we wondered how people in different countries identify style when they focus solely on a human face.
We shared plain head shots of a woman and man with fashion photographers, designers, and Photoshop experts around the world and asked them to conform their photos to what they felt was the latest fashion trends in their country.
About This Study
We selected two portraits to be retouched. The people in the photos we chose had no expression (as far as that is possible!) and were not wearing any makeup or accessories. We then used freelance job boards to gather designers from around the globe to take part in the project.
Here are the untouched portraits that we sent to the designers:
Designers from 27 countries around the world sent back their stylized headshots, and you can see each one below. Or, scroll to the bottom to see an infographic showing all submissions side-by-side.
Our Albanian designer, Sokol, was openly influenced by digital fashion magazines. His avatar-style adaptation of our models speaks to the phenomenon of virtual fashion models on the international scene. Will style become more universal when virtual models can beam in from catwalk to catwalk? Sokol chose sweet, glowing colors for his models, and a curly bob for the female model to add volume and definition to her look.
The Australian versions of our portraits were designed for a day at the Australian Melbourne Cup races, a glamorous event that has become synonymous with Australian style and fashion. The male model is no-nonsense and simple but sophisticated. His hairstyle is a familiar sight in urban Australia today, as is his ‘designer stubble.’ The woman’s bun was chosen to allow room for her hat since some people consider hat-wearing to be the main (unofficial) competition at the Melbourne Cup!
For our Belarusian designer (Ilya), a suntan is an emblem of a busy lifestyle. Both portraits exhibit the wealthy look to which modern Belarusians aspire, according to Ilya. The cigar is a kind of accessory for a successful businessman, while the female model has accessorized with earrings and a necklace for the banquet we see in the background.
Bosnian designer Ivan considers his style to be “fairy tale sub realism.” He has added details to bring out the inner character of the models, avoided makeup, and exaggerated their skin imperfections to bring out a natural sense of beauty. Recent generations of Bosnians have favored makeup and careful attention to hairstyling, but millennials have reacted against this, preferring the more natural yet sophisticated style that Ivan has conjured.
5. Costa Rica
The Costa Rican versions of our models have been minimally enhanced since the designer preferred to bring out their natural beauty. Their clothes and hair are simple so that the beholder is not distracted from their face, and the female model wears glasses to express intelligence.
Jakov from Croatia has given his models a timeless, classic look. He added glasses and a bouffant ponytail to the female model to make her look more confident and intelligent. Being just across the Adriatic from Italy, Croatia is not far from the heart of contemporary fashion. While many people play it ‘normcore’ and ‘dress for the weather,’ the country’s fashion leaders are busy mixing up cyberpunk and DIY, neon and vinyl.
Designer Amal chose a “dreamy, classic” Egyptian style. She opted to avoid accessories and focus on human beauty instead. She added a little facial hair to bring out the handsomeness and structure of the male model’s face. Egyptian style is exciting and modern with fashionistas mix-matching traditional North African dress with thrift shop eclecticism.
The Finnish interpretation of our models is natural yet classy, confident, and empowered. Our designer kept things simple, opting for a couple of signature flourishes to add flair: the bold, purple eye makeup and trendy scarf of the female model, and a blue shirt and darker hair and stubble to bring out the male model’s natural coloring.
The French look is as much about the practicality of day-to-day life as it is about being the most stylish nation on EarthTM. Our French designer capitalized on this unencumbered everyday look, adding simple modern jewelry and easily maintained hair. Plus, nothing says “man” more bluntly than a beard.
Tiny earrings are a big trend in Germany right now, and our German model’s hair is kept tied back to show her ears, face, and makeup. The designer also made the models look more ‘relaxed and friendly’ with some reshaping around the eyes.
11. Hong Kong
For the male model, our Hong Kong designer chose a suit+tee combo – the unofficial uniform of the city’s central business district. Men in Hong Kong don’t tend to wear accessories apart from a watch. The female model’s hair was styled to match a popular look in the region and is feminine and casual.
Indian fashion has returned to its roots, as reflected in our designer’s choice of traditional elements. Heritage fabrics, bright colors and Indian craft are big internationally and recognized back home, too. Designer Anurag also points out that vintage allows people to be unique – and that one ‘unseen’ touch he would add is a pocket watch for the gent.
Tanned skin is considered stylish in Israel, and is very popular right now. Our Israeli designer, Rony, suggests that big lips are also thought beautiful – hence the lipstick. Curly hair is both common and aspired to by women in Israel. Men still embrace metrosexuality, and are guided in their choices by celebrity males who exemplify the manly look: lots of hair, carefully managed!
Justina, our Lithuanian designer, has chosen looks that combine traditional, stylish, and trendy elements. In fact, she admits she’s not sure where one ends and another begins! The man sports a hair-do known as The Regulation Cut, a classic military look that has been big on the high street for several years now. The models’ Bohemian and traditional Baltic, Prussian, or pagan touches feel fresh and young despite coming from a long and rich heritage.
Our Malaysian designer gave the models a stylish, young, modern look. Both models sport black hair with a soft curl for added elegance. The man’s facial hair and woman’s accessories make the models more attractive to the Malaysian eye. Malaysia is a forward-looking, wealthy country, with state-of-the-art architecture and fashion, as reflected in these shots.
In Mexico, the summer hipster look reigns. Our designer added casual, over-the-shoulder braids for her, and an attractive clean-cut beard and blow-dried comb-over for him. Mexican fashion is currently all about bright patterns, heritage motifs, frilly dresses, and traditional craft. But a crop of exciting young designers is busy working on diverse ideas. From clean lines to dramatic flourishes, you can never second-guess Mexican style.
Eric, our Namibian designer, gave the models traditional elements that are trending in Africa right now. The female model has a head wrap and facial painting, and the male wears a dashiki (west African-style tunic) and Yoruba hat. He has a beard, like most African men. Eric reflects that fashion knows no race or color, but that beauty is often defined by the culture in which it flourishes.
Natural and youthful makeup is very fashionable in Poland right now, so our Polish designer (Sarah) has added blush to the female model’s cheeks and nose. The bowed scarf has also been big with women and girls in Poland. The male model’s beard reflects facial hair trends of recent years, while his classy and mature look conforms to Sarah’s personal preferences. Sarah says she would not have edited the photos the same way five years ago – fashion and style move pretty quickly.
Nepalese people account for the second-largest expatriate population in Qatar, and their influence is felt in the country’s evolving culture. Our designer is a Nepali man living in Qatar, and he has included Nepali hats and Tika (Hindi forehead markings) for his models.
Oxana, our Russian designer, added glitter to our female model’s eyes corners and highlighter across her face for a more moisturized look. She sculpted the eyebrows in a Korean style inspired by Ariana Grande, while the earrings add glamour and draw the beholder’s gaze to the model’s eyes. The male was styled to be a bit of a Russian rogue. His hair and stubble were darkened to make him more handsome in Oxana’s eyes.
Our Serbian designer, Davorin, used his creative license to give the male model a business style and the female model an outdoors look. Davorin admits that he deliberately made the male model clean-shaven because beards have become too trendy in Serbia! Serbian fashion tends to be daring, and Davorin emphasizes the need for experimentation when developing your personal style.
22. South Africa
Lucinda from South Africa looked to The Great Gatsby for inspiration to make her models bold and beautiful. The female model’s gold choker necklace is a statement of confidence, while the male is made more mature with a touch of facial hair. The woman’s fringe is very fashionable in South Africa this year, and it complements the model’s bone structure.
Brands tend to ask our Turkish Photoshop expert, Mehmet, to keep their models looking natural. Style magazine readers sometimes mistrust overly retouched images. He added a slight tan to the man and brought out the fullness of the woman’s lashes.
24. United Arab Emirates
Our UAE designer, Tetiana, chose to imagine our models as celebrities on the cover of a magazine. But she was keen not to lose their natural beauty beneath artifice since the natural look is regaining popularity globally. Tetiana added detective movie-style accessories for the man, and a diadem crown and earrings for the woman – reflecting how Hollywood ideals reach distant shores.
25. United Kingdom
Our UK designer, Clara, concentrated mostly on the models’ hair. She gave the woman a fashionable bob, and added volume to the man’s hair – since she felt it was sorely lacking substance! British celebrities continue to have international influence on style and fashion. Luckily, a cool umbrella goes with everything…
Our Ukrainian images have been made up in a hipster style, which designer Yana believes is highly on-trend at the moment: short, dyed blonde hair for women and a ‘sloppy’ beard and stylized hair for men. The woman’s earrings, however, are more timelessly stylish. Yana makes the good point that men mostly accessorize below the neckline. She would have liked to add a watch, large rings, and tattoos.
Our American designer took things to the street, giving the female model an urban, playful look with the wholesome smile and freckles of a grown-up Mickey Mouse Club icon (think Britney and Justin). The male model is given the British dandy look favored by Andre 3000 and Brad Goreski. You can bet there’s an umbrella just out of shot.
Comparing Country Submissions Side-By-Side
Here are all the interpretations of our female portrait at a glance. It is interesting how all over the world, our designers fought with the tension between the trendy, wholesome natural look, and the fun and glamour of playing with accessories and makeup. Long may this battle continue!
They say ‘clothes maketh the man.’ But according to our designers, stubble or a beard are just as important. Here are the male portraits all in one place.
It is rare to see so many national looks and fashion opinions gathered in one place. Our guest designers have shown how style and fashion are a sensitive blend of cultural influence, personal preference, and just how you’re feeling on the day! Which national styles will influence your winter look?
We selected two portraits (one man, one woman) to be retouched. We chose images in which the subjects had no expression and were not wearing any makeup or accessories. Using freelance job boards, we invited designers and fashion photographers from around the globe to take part in the project. Out of hundreds of applicants we selected 27 designers who not only had experience in the fashion industry but could manipulate the images with Photoshop so as to show the latest trends in their country.