I’m not a Project Runway watcher at all—some other activity usually fills up that particular hour—but I had the opportunity to see the penultimate show: the *pre* grand finale show, if you will.
In it, Tim Gunn visited the finalists to offer them guidance on their developing lines. He was, I felt, particularly impressed with Kenley’s hand-painted dress and her feathery bride’s gown.
I, too, was in thrall to the feathers (the hand-painted number was too cutesy) until the judges pointed out that Alexander McQueen had already *done* that dress. “No,” insisted Kenley—there wasn’t another silhouette out there like hers, but the judges were firm.
To see a very illuminating side-by-side comparison of Kenley’s dress with McQueen’s, check out Thumbelina Fashionista’s latest excellent blog post. She also compares the hand-painted dress with a Balenciaga, and the results are distressing: Kenley’s clothes are not an homage to, but a direct copy of designers’ dresses.
To the mix I’d like to add the image above—a Balenciaga original—and the one below—Kenley’s dress. The shapes of the skirts are identical.
While I don’t believe there’s a copyright on shape, one shouldn’t be able to look at someone else’s *original* design and say, “Oh . . . Balenciaga,” which is what I was able to do.
I wonder why Kenley was permitted to show her collection in light of her obvious copying. Did the judges think that it would make “good TV”? As she emerged as the season’s villainess, was the showing of her copied dresses simply an extension of that theme?
To (ahem) *borrow* from TF, this isn’t Project Plagiarism.