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Fashion: Deja Vu All Over Again?

Mar 21 2013

Geoffrey beene2004 Celine2013

Where does "homage" or "inspiration" stop and outright copying begin? Why is it that when the Chinese copy a Louis Vuitton or Gucci bag, we call it "counterfeiting" and lobby for tougher sanctions but when one designer sends a coat down the runway that looks an awful lot like another designer's coat, we're too polite to do anything other than to note a "resemblance"?

To be fair, the trompe l'oeil coat Phoebe Philo included in her Fall/Winter 2013-14 collection a few weeks ago is not identical to the 2004 Geoffrey Beene coat pictured on Garmento. Moreover, fashion designers have been referencing the past probably since the first caveman donned a dried animal skin for warmth and protection. Yet, there is something about the close similarities between the two designs that disturbs many people. What disturbs me is that we clearly have a different policy stance for fashion design than we do for for tech or luxury goods but we have yet to articulate a persuasive justification for it.

Sincerely,

The Luxe Chronicles

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Thank you for your comment Teresa.

The first image (the Geoffrey Beene coat) was published on Garmento.com. Garmento is a NYC biannual fashion magazine and the image was posted on their website. The coat in question has been identified by the Geoffrey Beene Foundation via WWD. You can click on the links above which will take you to the sources.

Helene

I agree with what you're saying. But how do we know the source of the first jacket? Who made the second? I think you forgot to include this because I thought they were just before the runway and during the runway pictures of the same thing.

Bonjour, Helene! Unfortunately, yes, imo. Perhaps some assistant was responsible for the faux pas?

But obviously, the mainstream media and preferred bloggers probably, will not have the rip-off issue in their cross-hairs.

So the team behind the brand will be waved on by the media minders.
However, the conspiracy of silence is not kept up only about copying work; favored designers - or those with financial clout - do not get thumbed down openly. Or at best, between the lines.
Like political news, what is not said is more important than the written word in fashion.

Thank you for your comment willowblue. Do you think that Philo is getting a "pass" on this because of her status as industry darling?

Helene

Isn't this exactly what a fake is about: never being exactly the same,but close enough?
But nobody who values their advertising revenue - much less their front row seats - will call this sort of copying for what it is.
Fashion rarely (if ever) devours its anointed favorites, such as Phoebe Philo. (after her first collection, she has kind of moved into designing for spinster bankers?)
Oh, Nicholas Ghesquiere - quickly forgiven for ripping off the work of late Californian designer Kaisik Wong. But it seems no-one could ever replace Mr Ghesquiere, since he is the greatest thing in fashion since we learnt to make buttonholes.

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The Luxe Chronicles is a collection of interviews, profiles and musings on various aspects of the luxury industry and occasionally, a rant on our celebrity obsessed culture and the dumbing down of our collective sense of style and esthetic.

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