There is a fine line between work being inspired by another very similar piece even sometimes actually re-using the original, known in the art world as appropriation, and work that is simply an unacknowledged copy of the original, known in the real world as counterfeiting. In art there is the relationship between the idea or concept and the artist’s intent when using, or we should really say, re-using another’s work. But in the commercial world of design we rapidly descend into the mire of copyright infringement and counterfeiting.
I really liked this design for a skirt and have looked at photographs of both. The one on the left is an affordable version by Flying Wardrobe (£40) and the one on the right is the designer version by Stella Jean (£1908) – on sale at the moment for £815 at Saks Fifth Avenue. If you walked down the street in either one it would be difficult, with just a glance, to say which was which. Obviously, they do differ, the motifs on the expensive skirt look more subtle instead of very obviously and artificially floating on top as in the print of the cheaper skirt. For a ticket price of £1908 the fruit and leaves on the Stella Jean skirt are apparently “dusted with glittering sequins and beads for a magical final touch”, unfortunately you can’t see that effect in photographs.
The cheaper skirt is not a fake, but it has surely been inspired by the designer version. There is also a hint of inspiration from the 1950s perhaps this vintage skirt or similar caught both contemporary designers’attention.
In the end I suppose we should just remember the expression ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!’ Well, nobody really owns ideas do they?