June 24, 2009

News flash: High-end copycats?

And the copycat saga continues... In an especially egregious copycat case, CFDA president and prominent anti-copying advocate Diane von Furstenberg voluntarily settled out of court with under-the-radar Canadian label Mercy after a newspaper columnist accused her of copying a floral-print jacket, above right. Mercy co-designer Jennifer Halchuk explained to the National Post that the jacket pattern was entirely unique, having been custom-made to fit their idea of a vintage bed jacket, and pointed out that DVF's version (at left above, and worn by Jessica Alba on the cover of Elle) copied nearly every detail – the asymmetrical bias neck bow, an interior drawstring, elasticated sleeve cuffs – except the copyrighted fabric.

Meanwhile, at Balenciaga, influential designer Nicolas Ghesquière has been known to draw his inspiration from the house's archives as well as from other vintage sources. Most recently, a Resort 2009 leather jacket featured distinctive curved seams nearly identical to those on the Parrot jacket by defunct San Francisco label East West Musical Instruments. Given that the brand is no longer in operation, an homage seems reasonable, but it does beg the question: How close should a garment be to its inspiration, and where do we draw the line between inspiration and imitation?

Photo via National Post
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