Several years ago I posted this photo of a cocktail towel that is in my possession, which goes to show what a great memory my friend Mod Betty has when it comes to design. She was doing a bit of online shopping when she happened upon a dress with a design that rung a bell with her. She sent the link my way to see if I could find my photos of the towel so we could compare the two.
As you can see, the two prints are not identical, but the dress print was apparently based on the print of the vintage towel. Look carefully and you will see that the martini glass with olive and the ice cubes have been added to the original design. The website where this dress is sold describes the print as a “unique new Atomic Martini print.”
My towel was made by Martex, which was originally a maker of printed kitchen linens. Today, Martex is still in business and is owned by WestPoint Home, which also owns many of the other great American home textile makers including Stevens, Pepperell, and Utica.
Does the addition of the martini glass, the olive and the ice cube make this print new? Is there a copyright violation? It would take a copyright expert to answer those questions, something that I am not.
I love interesting printed fabrics, and I like the dress. However, it bothers me that the line between what is vintage and what is reproduced is so terribly smudged. I’m glad I’m a collector now, and not twenty years down the road, because between all the retro fabrics and reproductions, it is going to be hard to tell what is what. Add to that all the people (including me) who are sewing with vintage patterns and vintage fabrics, and there are going to be a lot of very confusing clothes at the Goodwill of the future.