Michael Castello: Model Sheeren Wu’s face changed with artificial intelligence

Michael Castello: Model Sheeren Wu’s face changed with artificial intelligence


When model Wu sees herself on the catwalk, she is shocked

Fashion designer Michael Castello briefly used Shereen Wu as a model for one of his fashion shows. He later posted a video of the show and changed Wu’s face beyond recognition.


  • The American model Shereen Wu attended a Michael Costello fashion show on short notice.

  • In Instagram snippets from the show that were later posted, his face was changed beyond recognition using artificial intelligence.

  • Wu is angry at Costello: she sees the change as a racist attack on her.

«I have never felt so insulted in my life. It’s my body, it’s my neck, but it’s not my face,” says Shereen Wu, an American model of Taiwanese origin. The video, which she posted on Tiktok on October 28, has been viewed over 1.8 million times .

She comments on a photo from fashion designer Michael Costello’s show, which the American posted on Instagram, in which her face has been lightened and retouched to such an extent that her facial features have been erased, making her unrecognizable. “It’s not me,” she protests. “Changing my face and changing my ethnicity is completely disrespectful.” In the video, Wu’s face was actually modified so heavily using her artificial intelligence that not only are her Asian origins no longer recognisable, but it instead gives the impression that an entirely different person is strutting down the runway .

Legal consequences for Costello?

At the model, Michael Costello denies having altered the photo and blames a photographer. He, in turn, denies the accusations and supports his statements with screenshots in which Wu’s face has not yet been changed. Why Costello replaced Wu’s face with another is unclear. However, the American with Asian origins had to replace another model in a short time – and apparently did not fulfill the designer’s wishes.

For Costello, against whom accusations of racism had already been made, the issue is rather unpleasant, but it is not clear whether it will also have legal consequences. In an interview with SRF Wendla Savic, also a model and lawyer, said that an injunction and/or a claim for damages would be possible in Germany. “If images are manipulated beyond the normal limit (retouching, lighting changes) and the person is alienated, the model’s personal rights are compromised,” says Savic. But how was Wu’s face “manipulated” in the first place?

Real models are becoming less important

According to Damian Murezzan, an artificial intelligence expert at SRF, Photoshop and software that generates artificial faces were probably used in Wu’s case. Now this is also possible for laypeople and is not very demanding: “Not only still images, but also videos can be manipulated without much technical or financial effort,” says Murezzan. From a technological point of view, Wu’s face change is very simple to implement.

Using Photoshop to help the fashion industry is nothing new. There are now models that are completely generated by AI and compete with real models for advertising bids. According to Savic, personal presence becomes less and less necessary: ​​“As a model, you will probably make your face available more often to create an avatar.” However, she is convinced that artificial intelligence cannot completely replace real models.

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