Bill’s and my worlds haven’t converged like this since Disney did Donatella Versace as Daisy Duck. If you didn’t know, our relationship never would have started if Bill hadn’t learned that I read Harry Potter, and I’ve got a couple AMQ pieces in my own closet. (Including sunglasses that I wear every day.)
So UK fashion bloggers and Refinery29 report that Jany Temime, costume designer for the last of the Harry Potter movies (Book seven is broken into two films and if you didn’t know that WHO ARE YOU?) ripped off an Alexander McQueen Fall 2008 gown for Fleur Delacour’s wedding dress. The side-by-side makes it pretty obvious. The inspiration is nearly entirely replicated in the resulting derivative, but…I’m still hesitant to go so far as to say it’s “stealing.”
The idea of stealing design ideas in fashion is an interesting legal grey area. In August a New York senator, Charles Schumer, introduced the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act. Currently pending in Congress, the Act is essentially a step toward installing copyright protection on fashion design. Protection would cover three years on a design, which is small compared to Europe’s 25-year protection. This is an interesting listen and read: Designers Get Fierce with Copyright on the Catwalk (NPR).
I appreciate the protection of people’s creativity, but I also feel like…Umm, hello, isn’t this how fashion works? Whenever people say “Oh, that bag/shoe/tie totally looks like a Balenciaga/Chloe/Hermes knockoff,” I hear a loop of Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly smackdown on naive Andy Sachs:
Miranda Priestly: [Miranda and some assistants are deciding between two similar belts for an outfit. Andy sniggers because she thinks they look exactly the same] Something funny?
Andy Sachs: No. No, no. Nothing’s… You know, it’s just that both those belts look exactly the same to me. You know, I’m still learning about all this stuff and, uh…
Miranda Priestly: ‘This… stuff’? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.
Fashion trickles down. Not to say that people don’t need to do their work and be creative and innovative instead of copying other thought leaders, but fashion trends depend on a flow from the inaccessible runway down and into Macy’s. A winning look on a runway is designed for the runway, and then it is rented out to stars and carefully placed famous bodies. Once it’s had its run as a runway piece, it is modified for a high-priced market in specialty departments and boutiques. Then more accessible stores take note of those trendy elements that made the clothes sell at such sky-high price tags, and they modify it again with cheaper materials and more wearable edits. Eventually you get similar-looking jackets hanging on the racks of five different labels and, later on, discards at an outlet. But if it wasn’t for all those steps down, there would be no trend for Lucky to report – even if it is seasons later than Vogue on the tip.
Are runway gowns like concept cars? Should fashion designers go the way of Apple in protecting and patenting their designs?
Looking at these dresses again, I think Temime really should have done something that wasn’t so blatantly McQueen-inspired – At least change the color or something! – But then again, before Skechers launched Bob’s, there was Tom’s, and I’m sure both companies are ready and willing to compete their super similar products.