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Presence analysis of the retouching lable “Photographie retouchée” 2019

Magazine page (Fendi advertising) with retouching lable

MK Retouching investigated different Vogue Paris on retouching lables in 2019 after the first investigation in 2018. Here you can read about the latest developments and possible forecasts.

It is recommended to read the general legal context and  first study from 2018 first to understand the overall context.

In the last study it could be determined that the advertisements do not change depending on the magazine.
Therefore, this time only Vogue Paris was chosen as the magazine that had the most retouching lables in the past.

The following different Vogue Paris magazines were examined several times.

  • VOGUE Paris (Print), 994, February 2019
  • VOGUE Paris (Print), 996, April 2019
  • VOGUE Paris (Print), 997, Mai 2019
  • VOGUE Paris (Print), 998, June/July 2019

Amount of Retouching lables

A total of 38 retouching lables were found on advertisements from 18 brands in the 4 magazines mentioned above, with the words “Photographie retouchée”, “Photographie Retouchée”, “Photo retouchée” or “Photographies Retouchées”.

The average number of retouching lables per magazine has increased slightly. In order to make a valid statement, however, not only the quantitative increase must be considered, but also the relationship between images with retouching lable and images without retouching lable (percentage).


As already described, 18 different brands were identified that used a retouching lable. The ones with the highest amount of retouching lables in this study were Saint Laurent (5), FENDI (4), DIOR (4), Lancôme (4), Estee Lauder (3) and HERMES (3).
The two studies gave a good insight into the brand strategies. The following list gives an example of the biggest brands and their use of the retouching lable.

  1. Brands that always use retouching lable(s):
    Saint Laurent, Lancôme, HERMES
  2. Brands strictly without retouching lable(s):
    Gucci, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, MaxMara, Moschino, Chloé
  3. Brands with reduced number of retouching instructions compared to last year:
    Prada, Louis Vuitton, Armani, MIU MIU , Dior

In comparison there were also some brands that did less advertising and some that did more advertising than in the previous study.
Michael Kors did less advertising therefore the amount of retouching lables decreased as well. FENDI did more advertising that’s the reason why FENDI has almost the most retouching lables in 2019.

Further findings

The monthly editions have a relatively constant amount of retouching lables (Figure 1). At first glance one can assume that the advertisings are very well chosen to keep the number constant. Compared with the previous study, however, this thesis can be refuted.

Figure 1: Amount of retouching lables in different editions of Vogue Paris

Placement on the magazine pages

Likewise, the placement of the retouching lables on the magazine pages was checked. As reference point the magazine page with the retouching lable was used.

As shown in Figure 2, there is a strong preference for placement in the bottom left or top left similar to 2018. Nevertheless the amount of retouching lables in the bottom left, middle left, top left decreased and the lower right position is seen more often.
The consumer can’t focus on the left part of the ad or the left part of the magazine page anymore, the chance of finding the retouching lable is almost equal on the left and the right side.

Figure 2: Placement of the retouching lables (magazine page as reference point)

Furthermore, the hint has less often been found near the fold. This is an overall improvement for recognizing the retouching lable.

As in the previous year it could be observed that the reference position was often placed as distanced as possible from the center or the model.
In Figure 3 and 4 you can see further examples of the model being located on the right page of the magazine and the retouching lable on the left one.

Figure 3: Distance between model and retouching lable (Vogue Paris, No. 996)

Figure 4: Distance between model and retouching lable (Vogue Paris, No. 996)

Alignment on the magazine page

In this section the orientation of the text is been discussed. It is much harder to read lables that are not aligned horizontally, because they are contradicting the usual reading habits. Whether a retouching lable should be placed vertically or horizontally is not clear from the corresponding legal text.

Since 2018 the amount of vertically placed lables raised from 54% up to 71.1%.
Similar to the previous study retouching lables were surrounding by other information.
In 2018 87% of the retouching lables weren’t surrounded by additional information. In 2019 this amount decreased to 63%.

That means the retouching lables are harder to read and to find than in the previous study (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Example of vertically used retouching lable surrounded by information (Vogue Paris, No. 996)

Average size

The printed retouching lables were measured. For vertical retouching lables, the longer side was defined as the width and the shorter side as the height to achieve a clear average.
The average retouching lable in the investigated print magazines this year (2019) was:

  • width: 25.6 mm (2018: 26.1 mm)
  • height: 1.5 mm (2018: 1.7 mm)

Typography of the Retouching lable

  • Typographically, three parameters were examined. As in the previous study the majority of the retouching information in magazines consists of sans-serif fonts. Serif typefaces are still only used by a few brands such as Lancôme (and Jean Paul Gaultier).
  • Regarding the font set, the lowercase option “photographie retouchée” or “photo retouchée” almost disappeared (only one retouching lable). Captial letters (31% ->42.1%) and the combination of the normal capital letter and lowercase letters (42.5% ->55.3$%) increased equally.
  • If we take a look at the font style of the retouching lable it is always used as regular font. The only exception is still Lancôme (italic).

Contrast values

Another aspect of the investigation was the contrast values ​​from text to background. Similar to the previous year, there were some examples of insufficient contrast between background and text.
The following campaign by Saint Laurent (Figure 6, Figure 7) is a good example of a lack of contrast between background and font (dark gray on black, dark gray on light gray)

Figure 6: Example of bad contrast between background and text (Vogue Paris, No. 998)

Figure 7: Example of bad contrast between background and text (Vogue Paris, No. 998)

Recognition value

Overall, there is only a low recognition value, since the reference in the positioning and design differs depending on the brand. In some cases, there were even different versions within the brands (different campaign styles). Lables within a magazine are therefore different in its appearance and must first be searched for. The same ads in different magazines are identical.

In general one can see that the visibility of the retouching lable was not improved from 2018 until 2019. On the contrary, it has even gotten a little worse/invisible.

Effectiveness/Credibility of the labeling obligation

It is noticeable, the advertising campaigns, which contain several pictures (Figure 8, Figure 9) or many women at once (Figure 10) had only one retouching lable (which used singular in wording, not “Photographies retouchées”). This raises the question of which and how many images of the campaign are affected by the change in body shape. Often, however, this is not noticeable in comparison. As a result, the following conclusions are drawn for the consumer:

a) The changes in image processing with respect to the body are minimal when tagged images are not visibly different from unmarked ones. This means that the models are depicted almost with their natural body shape, the beauty ideal is getting strenghtened again. The lable loses its original purpose.

b) Every picture is doubted. Either not all changes made are marked by the lable or too many lables are used similar to a general use of the lable to avoid potential costs of not marking in principle.

Figure 8: Example of many campaign images but only one retouching lable (Vogue Paris, No. 994)

Figure 9: Example of many campaign images but only one retouching lable (Vogue Paris, No. 996)

Figure 10: Example of many models in one image but only one retouching lable (singular) (Vogue Paris, No. 997)

To avoid unwanted conclusions from consumers, legislation should be more detailed about certain cases.

Also an example of wrong usage of the lable was found. It is obvious that a pure product image can not show a changed body proportions of a woman.

Figure 11: Example of wrong retouching lable usage (Vogue Paris, No. 997)


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