March 15, 2012

When it comes to copyright infringement in the fashion industry, the culprits are usually mega chains in the Forever 21 and Topshop vein, who sneakily try and pass off high-end designs as their own.  It’s rare, however, for a luxury brand to knock-off the design of another top designer, not counting the ongoing red sole saga between YSL and Christian Louboutin. That changed this week, when it was revealed that some crystal-adorned cuffs from Chanel’s most recent in Paris, heavily resembled several cuffs from New York-based jewelery designer Pamela Love’s fall collection from last year.

As a CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund nominee and the winner of the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award, Love has also collaborated on lines with designers like Marchesa and Zac Posen, and has produced custom jewelery for HBO’s True Blood. Given that, would Chanel’s accessories designer Laetitia Crahay intentionally copy or steal Love’s designs, when she’s such a prominent fixture within the industry? Someone was bound to notice, which they did.

So Fashionista, who have a column dedicated to suspect copyright breaches within the fashion industry, decided to ask Chanel themselves. Whether or not it was an honest mistake, a case of complete sub-conscious coincidence on Chanel’s part, or an act of pre-mediated stealing in the vain hope they wouldn’t get caught, the answer holds much less weight after reading the brand’s ethically sound response.  Although they may have sidestepped admitting any wrongdoing, Chanel has decided they won’t sell the cuffs as part of next winter’s collection. “Out of respect for the concerns raised and for the artistic process generally the House has decided not to offer these bracelets for sale as part of the A/W 2012 collection,” they wrote in response to Fashionista’s query.

Although deciding not to sell a few cuffs won’t really harm their bottom line, it’s nice to see a brand as sizable as Chanel back down. Because while mass-market chains are in the business of replicating trends set out by luxury design houses, it would be ignorant for anyone to say that top designers in the business of creating trends, don’t borrow from each other in the ongoing cycle known as the ‘creative process’. So 103 years after from Chanel’s inception, after they’ve given us the Little Black Dress and the 2.55, let’s give them a pat on the back for graciously doing the right thing, even if it was only after they got caught.

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