Copycat Couture: Style Coincidence or Fashion Xerox?

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Copycat couture: Oliver Rousteing for Balmain 2015 vs. Alexander McQueen for Givenchy 1997. (Image from VFILES Instagram)
Oliver Rousteing for Balmain 2015 vs. Alexander McQueen for Givenchy 1997. (Image)

The Fashion Week marathon of New York, London, Milan and Paris are finally over. When all is said and done, seen and talked about on media channels, what is left is the time notion of when such trends and fashion would be available, but also if the masses could afford such designer price tags. Which of course they can’t.

Thankfully, companies like Zara, H&M and many others, the general public can have access to the “freshly inspired” pieces straight from the most glamorous catwalks. After all, there is nothing wrong with paying $50 for a dress that is very similar to a $2,000 gown that a designer put on the market.

What I truly find fascinating is when designers send down their runways models wearing clothes that clearly have been designed before by their “colleagues.” Who doesn’t remember when Yves Saint Laurent sued Ralph Lauren in 1994 for copying a tuxedo dress that YSL had created in 1966 and showed it again on the haute couture fall show collection for 1991/92? Pierre Bergé, then the president of YSL, was quoted saying to Women’s Wear Daily, “It’s one thing to draw inspiration from another designer; it’s quite another to rip off a design, line for line, cut for cut, which is what Ralph Lauren did.” Berger was then sued by Lauren for his comments.

On a more “discreet attempt” last week in Paris at the Balmain Spring 2015 preview, a white pantsuit look was “very similar” to Givenchy’s Spring 1997 look designed by Alexander McQueen for its couture line. According to WWD , Olivier Rousteing says his inspiration was taken from women of his generation like Rihanna, Beyoncé and even “Erotica”-era Madonna. Rousteing can say and believe in whatever he wants, but to me, that inspiration was a pure Xerox of McQueen’s look; even after he removed the flap pockets and added a breast pocket, the idea is clearly from McQueen.

A Tale of Two Chanel Backpacks: Karl Lagerfeld vs. Scooter LaForge (Images from Jan. 2014 Vogue, left, )

In 2012, New York-based artist Scooter LaForge — who has an exclusive line for Patricia Field — did a Chanel logo appropriation to create a backpack for an art show in New York’s East Village. Earlier this year, a Chanel backpack was featured on the pages of Vogue magazine, and it appears to me that the French fashion powerhouse did an appropriation of LaForge’s appropriation — or do you really believe that Karl Lagerfeld woke up one morning and had the same idea as LaForge? “They look like they came from the same collection,” says fashion enthusiast Jorge Clar in a very interesting article about the matter call “A Question of Appropriation.”

(Image from lfsshopping's Instagram)
Tom Ford by Jay-Z/Black Boy Place vs. the real Tom Ford (Image)

Besides the “trousergate” scandal in 2009 between Armani and Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs’ scarf drama and so many other knockoff stories, my favorite is the one including Tom Ford — who interestingly totally dislikes being copied by Zara — knocking off the knockoff. American rapper and producer Jay-Z, 44, wore a “Tom Ford 61” jersey shirt with the word “Molly” crossed out during his Magna Carta Holy Grail tour. It was meant as a reference to his “Tom Ford” track that denounces the drug, “Molly.” Jay-Z’s jersey was created by Black Boy Place, a French brand founded in 2010, and it costs $65. Back in February, during last seasons’ shows at Fashion Week in London, Ford took that design and gave it an upgrade for his Fall/Winter 2014 collection with a price tag of $6,500. “I just took the knock off from online, and knocked it off,” Ford explained. He used sequins for the shirt makeover … gotta love him!

Copycats, fake inspirations, Xerox, style appropriation, intellectual property kidnapping or just lack of fashion creativity … you might call it whatever you want, but it is very amusing just to sit and watch this originality game of who did it first or better. Don’t you find it amusing? Well, that’s because you haven’t yet been introduced to Fashion Copycats. Be my guest …

Gazelle Paulo is a contributing writer for TheBlot Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and FreakChic.

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