True originality is a rare thing. I’m now aware of this more than ever before. Only a few weeks ago I was writing about a collection that had simply won my heart, Céline Fall/Winter 2013. I could hardly find any more adjectives to describe my feelings. Would I write the same words now? No. Why? In the left image above, you can see a Geoffrey Beene coat from 2004. In the right image, it’s a Céline coat just shown in Paris this March. I don’t pretend I didn’t know that designers draw inspiration from other designers and especially from past generations and innovative fashion houses. They might even do it involuntarily, unknowingly, and then apply it to their own work as if it’s the outcome of their own talent and creative minds. You don’t have to be an expert in fashion to have realised how many derivate collections are shown lately on the runway. And I’m not even surprised, with the interminable collections that are released throughout a year, as Lisa was aptly noticing too in a recent blog post.
But I don’t think that anything can justify the shocking similarity between these two coats and their styling. This is crossing the line. Needless to say that Geoffrey Beene was not even mentioned as one of the sources of inspiration of Phoebe Philo’s design. Or was he? The editors of Garmento Magazine, which pointed out the striking resemblance, were elegant enough to take this as a tribute paid to the American designer. Let me have my doubts. I still would have raised my eyebrow, but at least it would have been a sign of common sense and respect towards the creativity of others. But no, this similarity does not look like a tribute. When did copy become the norm in fashion of the highest rank? I guess the high street fashion brands really learn from the best. But at least, with them, you know where you stand.
Aside from the fact that this has left me with a very bitter taste, I have to say that it is also yet another proof that strengthens my conviction that the American designers have had a much more substantial impact on fashion than many fashion journalists have ever been willing to admit. And this has been going on since the beginning of the 20th century.
I hope your week is off to a good start!
photos: 1-Jack Deutsch, 2004 / 2-Vogue.com, 2013