Sunday, June 5, 2011

I'm Confused, Counterfeits Are To Be Celebrated?

Sidney Gittler was the world's largest buyer of Haute Couture at a time when line for line copies were cool. I know; my mother oohed at some and others that did not meet her standards reduced her to a haughty churlish glare, flaring nostrils and tightened cherries-and-snow lips. Well, that was a long time ago. Yves Saint Laurent sued Ralph Lauren over copying the iconic YSL tuxedo dress he first showed in '66 and again during the fall '91 Haute Couture collection, collecting 395,000.00 for the finding of "counterfeiting and disloyal competition." Azzedine Alaia flew to Los Angeles to sue a local manufacturer for outrageous copies of his things purchased from the Alaia chez Gallay boutique on Rodeo, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga both sued Steve Madden, and Louis Vuitton even goes after artists incorporating its iconic LV's.

I like Alan Schwartz. He's urbane and handsome and charming. I first met him at Helena's the night I met Eddie The Hat, the best "bad boyfriend" ever. I remember a Thanksgiving at his house crawling with football stars. His things were of fashion and affordable. I bought a few things for my shop, and they sold as well as the spendy, edgy European designers on the racks.

Sidney Gittler paid a caution, a fee to attend the Haute Couture shows with a commitment to buy a guaranteed amount of models, to be able to produce line for line copies. It's arguable whether copies impact  designer goods. Certainly there are wealthy customers who are proud to have an Hermes Birkin for 199.00 .. but each year, even in the dark shameful days of the recession, business at Hermes thrived. The Balenciaga motorcycle bag was copied even down to the under 20.00 level sold at Target; soulless, ugly things unlike the original.

Princess Kate seems very cool and unlikely to be riled up by the silliness and commercialization surrounding the Royal Wedding.

I wish Alan had resisted this time.


  1. Ugh... this is an issue near to my heart.
    And that damn Balenciaga bag! I liked it for a nanosecond and then it got to the point that I wouldn't be caught dead carrying one because everybody on God's green Earth had a version of it. That's why I don't buy Vuitton, Dior or Prada bags (besides the fact that I can't afford them!)... I see all of the copies every single day on the subway. It's gross. And how is any mass manufacturer going to copy that embroidery detail from Kate's dress. Yikes. They're going to bastardize it.

  2. Copies and fakes are gross, and knowing that many (not Alan's) are made in third world countries where anything goes as far as labor laws and human rights is sickening. I do have The Balenciaga and it's aged now, I love it more. I kind of, perverse, like that this is the one and all those replica/mirrors/cheap copies are nasty are just sort of homage to the greatness of the original, admittedly a weird take. It also was the thing I did to celebrate ending a marriage after a staircase confrontation over a white belt. Weird .. and true.

  3. Thank you for shedding some light on this Madeleine, I truly have been baffled by much of it, and I write about it!

    Of the many firms making copies there is one in particular that shows other dresses besides the McQueen gowns they're making (on it's 'royal' copies page), they are crowing about an Issa they are making. Except it's *not* an Issa! They have a photo of Kate Middleton in an Issa dress they are using to promote their copy of that Issa dress...? It seems completely bizarre to me.

    I really don't understand. If there was a line, it seems like it has been crossed and criss-crossed over and over again.

  4. Confusion .. there's a law I've seen batted about proposing to fine the owner of counterfeit designer goods 2,000.00 (that seems insanely unfair; I really don't think most people consider counterfeit/authentic or understand the meaning) - why not fine the counterfeiter? I hate that Facebook in all its largess and anonymity accepts ads from counterfeiters and "replica" sites. That seems illegal and yet ..

    The dress thing, the copies that are proclaimed copies, are often enough shown in a TV segment against the original which is a serious endorsement.

    My confusion is real.

  5. It's funny you should post this now - I just passed a woman on my way back from the gym who was toting the most obvious Balenciaga fake: bright metallic green with silver rivets. Like you, I own the original and I'm not actually bothered by the fakes of this particular style, since they're generally very obvious. In most cases copy-cats just find it too hard to replicate the details and materials. It's easier to do with less intricate stuff like the monogram items.

    I do think it's ironic that Louis Vuitton is so anal with copyrights though, considering Marc Jacobs has completely ripped off designs from lesser known creatives in the past.

  6. ...well, that's how is and unfortunately always be! like in China they are selling tons of it on those kinds of Bazaar etc.. and everyone is taking from everyone, without credit! great post, sweets! xoxo

  7. I love your posts so much. Your historical information is so interesting! I guess for a nerd like me, that's not abnormal. But at any rate, this subject is obviously very serious. It's being talked about all them time, world wide. In my introduction to the fashion business class this past winter, we discussed this. Not only is it dispicable in the manner of stealing someone else's hard work, fakes are stealing millions from the fashion industry each year. Which means young people like myself who are trying to break in will have a harder time finding work. It's tragic, really. *sigh*

    Quench Fab


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