World’s first “digital supermodel,” Shudu Gram is an image created by British fashion photographer 28-year-old Cameron-James Wilson using 3D image rendering software programme DAZ3D.
Shudu shot to fame after a picture of her wearing bright orange lipstick was reposted on the official Instagram page of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty with the caption; “in living color.”
Earlier, the photographer didn’t make it known that Shudu was unreal. The bio of her Instagram page which had 61,800 followers read “Who is she?”.
He faced a lot of criticism for this. Wilson claims it has been wrongly reported that he was “forced” to reveal she wasn’t real, arguing that it was “never a big secret”. But when Harper’s Bazaar reached out for an interview, he “knew it was time to just clarify everything.”
“Basically Shudu is my creation, she’s my art piece that I am working on at moment,” the photographer said in the interview with Harper’s Bazaar.
“She is not a real model, unfortunately, but she represents a lot of the real models of today. There’s a big kind of movement with dark skin models, so she represents them and is inspired by them.”
When asked why he had kept Shudu’s identity a secret, he told PEOPLE, “CGI and 3D artists aim for absolute realism. In order to make sure I was hitting that mark, it was important that I was able to make her convincing as possible. If she was convincing people, I was on the right track. To perpetuate that she was real was part of my learning process.”
“If you look at Shudu and she seems familiar, you might be on to something. When journalist Isiuwa Igodan asked where Wilson found the inspiration for her, the photographer said that it wasn’t just one particular woman that the digital supermodel was based on; instead, he drew inspiration from a lot of women over the years.
For example, Shudu’s neck rings, or Ndebele, are inspired by a 1999 Dior advert for J’Adore where Carmen Kass walked into a bath of gold. “But her main inspiration is a South African Princess Barbie,” Wilson was quoted as saying.
Among other women who inspired his creation were Lupita Nyong’o, Duckie Thot, Nykhor Paul and even Alek Wek, who, said Wilson, “was a massive influence on how I saw beauty growing up.”