I’ve talked about copying in the past, in the case of Tammis Keefe, and Vested Gentress and even the designs in the last of the Harry Potter movies. Today the issue is back in the news, prompted by the sharp eyes and double twitpic of Jane Keltner deValle, the fashion news editor of Teen Vogue. She remembered one of the dresses in Rachel Zoe’s new line as being identical to one she had used in a photo shoot in 2007. Turns out she was right, and she posted a double picture showing the original magazine page side by side with the dress in question. Stylistically, the dresses look identical to me, except the new one is a bit shorter.
According to people who know, Zoe bought the dress from the vintage store credited by the magazine and wore it at least once. Does being the owner of the dress give her the right to reproduce it and call it her design?
As I’ve said before, there are no copyrights on fashion designs in the US, so legally she does have the right. So why is this a matter of so much discussion? I think is is because people somehow feel cheated when they learn that a designer’s work is not his or her creative idea. When you stop and think about Zoe’s real job – that of fashion stylist – you can see how this might have played out. She is used to looking at lots of dresses and separating the wheat from the chaff. Her job is to select what looks good, to recognize great design. I think it would be interesting to see the “inspiration” behind the other pieces in her collection.
So do I think it is wrong? I’m not really sure, but I do wish she had been more forthcoming as to the original of the piece. We all know that J. Peterman buys vintage pieces and then makes faithful copies, but they proudly proclaim the vintage originals of their designs. And even Kate Moss let Vogue watch her “design” her line, which pretty much consisted of her picking her favorites among vintage pieces presented by her assistants. But we don’t consider either J. Peterman, nor Kate Moss to be designers, and that is the point. In order to be taken seriously as a designer, you have to have more than a point of view and a good eye.
And not referring specifically to Zoe, but can we not just admit now that not everyone and her brother are cut out to be designers? What’s wrong with being happy knowing you are a great stylist, or a great model, or a great actress?