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grumblings about design theft is always a tricky matter. designers take inspiration, and sometimes even explicit designs, from fashion's very expansive past. can anyone own the past? some designers are more like stylists, building collections on reworked material. marc jacobs does this very well. even miuccia prada builds more of a collage rather than starting from scratch. sometimes it looks like carpet scraps, and sometimes it's art painted on gossamer pajamas, but while it might be something we haven't seen, as a compilation, on the runway before, it is not altogether foreign either. an original recreation of sorts.

then there are designers who force people to search for words to capture the effect, or even to describe the very clothing. sometimes words fail, because the clothing comes from somewhere so new, there are no words yet. these are builders of fashion.
one side effect of such conceptual (an inadequate but popular way to describe it) work is that it seems fairly un-recreate-able.
it's not about going to a thrift store and pulling from the same vintage archives that the designer sorted through a year ago. it's not about hopping over to a mass chain and buying the near-identical pattern in a related cut. these are original coming and going, it seems to me. they don't borrow from others, and others don't..."borrow" from them.

which designers/collections, in your opinion, are highly UN-copyable?

9 comments:

enc said...

Arguably, the "conceptual" designers are UN-copyable. Lacroix, Galliano, McQueen, etc. The ideas are so esoteric, it's impossible to make them purely accessible.

This is a really good post. You make me think. Ouch!

TravelGretta said...

I don't think anyone is un-copyable, and imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery.

p.s. I'm totally copying and pasting this post and putting it on my blog.

;)

editor said...

enc - take 2 motrin and comment in the morning. :)

travelgretta - ...duh, everything can be copied. :p BUT, when design originates as something more authentic than ripping off vintage in the first place (hello mr. jacobs), it's a bit more complicated to reproduce, to 'get the look,' as one easily can, of so much of the stuff that is out there. you can go into another store and say "oh, this is sooo so-and-so," even if it is an entirely different designer/store/label. then there are other designers who are not ...copyable in the same way.
and you know it.
and i agree, imitation is absolute flattery. or lack of funds.

Allure said...

Alexander McQueen, and sometimes Ghésquiere.

Jillian said...

hmmm I dont agree with that... I think that perhaps you can't copy some aspects but there is always inspiration! You can take that first look for example find a trench with a similar pink print... wear a dark purple/maroon sweater with very long sleeves and a cowl neck, a yellow pant black headband... and grey socks under yellow heels!

so i guess they aren't exact copies but an inspired look is just as beautiful and I think that is what the designers a lot of times are out to do... inspire you!

fashionaddict said...

I vote for Alexander McQueen too - his designs are not necessarily immediately complex to the eye, but it's so beautifully executed that you won't even bother with a knock-off of it. Christian Lacroix too.

(Let's disregard the McQueen secondary line.)

a. said...

i see your point, but then i do think that the ideas any work are always traceable to various cultural references. i.e. the ideas may be original, but they always come from some amalgamation/skewering/mashing up of ideas that are out there in the ether. and in the three pics i can see all sorts of references... in the first one to bloomers, to blankets, to tacky 70s prints, to clowns...

perhaps the line that you're talking about copyable/uncopyable comes down to a matter of cut and seam rather than of color, material, or print? in that case i can see how you're saying that marc, and i would say to a lesser extent prada, are more copyable. though, i don't think her last collection was very copyable. the cut and shape of the one before that was more copyable. but then, the materials in that one - the wool with plastic or resin or whatever - was/were definitely NOT copyable!

it's funny, even tho i semi-disagree with you, you definitely hit on one of the reasons i don't like/respect marc jacobs as much as a designer. i suppose while i still see references in most designers' work, that if you take a collection that say, pilati at ysl does, the references are so reworked, remixed, reconsidered, that you have to look hard to find the origins. with marc it seems much more of a facile gesture of pulling shapes, silhouettes, colors etc straight up from previous eras/points of inspiration.

(argh... i can't find her blog link right now, but suzanna (blank), who writes a great blog and lives in LA, wrote a brilliant post on pilati's latest
YSL collection that gets to the subtle references he's making in his clothes that you don't see until you really LOOK at a piece for a while... which is what i was thinking of when i wrote what's above.)

landis smithers said...

oh argh. the jacobs factor.

thank god i'm not the only one that keeps saying "really?" when i see his work. i mean, spin the decade wheel and let's put on a show! i've got a barn and bessie can sew!

as for individuals? watanabe. yohji. ghesquiere (particularly interesting intersection of inspiration from the original but COMPLETELY filtered through a unique aesthetic). rick owens (not "uncopyable", but certainly unique and no one seems to follow his lead.)

perhaps that's the key. when a design is so unique that, unlike poor miuccia, everyone does NOT rip you off immediately or interpret you.

giuseppe said...

copying is a sincere form of flattery.

i really hate hearing that :S
of course, it depends on how it's done though