Friday, October 30, 2009

Blogging Project Runway: Knockoff Junction or Wannabe

I have been reading a pretty awesome blog called "Counterfeit Chic" that basically is about the different knockoffs of designer clothing in the market. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Knocking off even your own self is a common practice in the fashion industry. And EVERYBODY does it. One of the most priced pieces of my couture collection is a Vivienne Westwood jacket from her Anglomania range. It is so structured and complexly tailored, with so many beautiful and surprising details and a built-in corset/vest. Here are some photos:

Well, she did the exact same jacket, in a slightly different fabric, for her "Black Label" line for probably 3 times the price ( and my Anglomania one was nowhere near cheap... but finding a Vivienne Westwood tailored jacket in a Euro size 50 , like a US 16, is almost miraculous. So I could not let it pass). I know because the "Black Label" one was in the book for her retrospective exhibit at the V&A. The quality in my diffusion piece is comparable to the "couture" piece and since it was done by the same designer no one would call it a knockoff, but Dame Viv knocked herself off.

This is so commonplace, it's not even funny and more like SOP. In fashion, you are after all working with a somewhat finite vocabulary and you are always going to find similarities, homages and downright ripoffs. Marc Jacobs has ripped off Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld has ripped off Franco Moschino. Everyone has ripped off Schiapparelli and Vionnet and Adrian Gilbert. Then there are the mass conterfeiters who do it shamelessly and commit the sin of not being famous or somewhat expensive. There was a bookstore/ antiquary place/ fashion magazine archive in NYC called Gallagher Paper Collectibles at 126 East 12th Street between Third and Fourth avenues, where EVERYONE in the fashion industry from Galliano to Donna Karan went for "inspiration". Which means they went there to rip off designs. I know because I have been a Gallagher's customer. Not to rip off anybody but because they also sell original sketches at a steal which I use as art on my bedroom wall:

Original Isaac Mizrahi Sketch-Purchased from Gallager's in 2005.

In this last episode of Project Runway the copycat accusations flew wildly in the workroom. Althea saying that Logan knocked her off. Irina saying that Althea knocked her off. As if ANY of them had come up with something that had not been done before...Seriously...Using zippers as something other than zippers? It has been done WAY before Althea. I have seen this a gajillion times on Moschino clothing ( not to speak of Jeffrey Sebelia's Bryant Park collection). Shoot, I even did it myself on my apparel construction final project. Moschino (Couture, Cheap and Chic AND Jeans) regularly uses notions (safety pins, zippers, hooks and eyes, snaps, buttons) as trims or embroidery or ornamentation. Just saw a dress with a safety pin starburst "applique" at Nordstrom's last week. I even have an Alexander McQueen cardigan in my closet right now from the capsule collection he did for Target where the zipper is used around the collar.
The ginormous floppy sweater? Hardly an Irina or Althea original. Donna Karan has done them, Benetton has done them, Ralph Lauren and Valentino have done them. How do I know? Because I have some of those too. And basically the cocoon shape is a Paul Poiret knockoff. Pays off to have listened in Fashion History class.
The accusations were all pretty ridiculous I think.
But other than paranoia and a lack of self-awareness here is what they came up with this week...

Carol Hannah (aka Proenza Schouler cocktail dress)

Cute little cocktail dress. That's all.

Christopher (aka wannabe Lacroix gown):

Puffy gown with decently fitted bodice and train wreck on the skirt. Ugly fabrics. Poor design. To me this was the one that should have been auf'ed. But who listens to me? This was like the dress for a depressed Quinceanera one step away from ECT treatments...

Logan (I want to be Franco Moschino or Jeffery Sebbelia):

To me it was not that bad. Original? No. But hideous? No either. Self-indulgent and student project-ish? For sure. But with nowhere near the lack of taste and eye for design as Christopher's.

Althea (Maharaja pants -pays off to shop in the UK- and Donna Karan cocoon sweater):

At least she did it well. I would actually wear this. So yeah.. I agree with the win.

Irina (If you wannabe Versace, you got to get with my friends...):

I am TIRED of the slutty Heidi Klum aesthetic being championed on the show. Tight and short is not sexy nor elegant. It's whore wear. This was a great look for a high end strip joint in Moscow. It was well sewn and it related to her other look.

Gordana ( I wanna uh, I wanna uh, I wanna channel Rick Owens ah):

I cannot believe that after all the crap they give this poor (and incredibly talented and admirable) woman, they still have the gall to comment on her lack of confidence. NOT ALL FASHION IS TIGHT, SHORT, COLORFUL DRESSES. Some of us actually LIKE long tailored jackets and somber colors. There is a reason why Comme Des Garcons and Rick Owens and Yohji Yamamoto sell so well and are very wealthy designers. Some of us do not want to look like Bratz dolls. I would have made a cool pair of pants to go with that jacket. Maybe even a pair of jeans and put a red or blue top underneath to give it a pop of casual elegance and color but I actually LIKED the jacket, saw nothing wrong with the skirt and would have put this look MILES ahead of Christopher's gown.

I think that there is something terribly ironic about lots of knocking people off accusations on a show where the challenge was basically asking the designers to knock themselves off. That is the beautiful post-modernism of reality television...
And I leave you with this:

And this:

Until next time at the same bat-time and on the same bat-channel...


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