Friday, October 17, 2008

Project Plagiarism: A Fine Im-Balenc(iaga)e

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.


WendyB said...

Hmmm....I feel that shape goes back to a time before the recent Balenciaga. But, true, it's certainly a shape that Balenciaga has popularized at the moment.

K.Line said...

This is a toughie. Cuz isn't everything old new again? But I see what you mean. And great title...

enc said...

Great post, miss cav.

Plagiarism or not, it sounds like there's a double standard on Project Runway. Both designers should have been called out on copying if the evidence is this obvious. Which it is to me.

Emily said...

this really did aggravate me that Kenley so blatantly copied other designers' work and that it was ok!

La Belette Rouge said...

How can Kenley deny the influence? She even claims that she never looks at other designers work.

Songy said...

Well, I guess the timing is interesting but all the designs in fashion comes and goes so I don't see if anyone could really say she 'copied' it. Where did Balenciaga got this idea from? Surely it wasn't invented by the label?!

hollarback said...

Of course no one brought up the fact that Leannes wedding dress is a ringer for a Yohji Yamamoto dress from 2007 - but in white.

I knew I'd seen it before. I don't think either intentionally copied frankly.