Fashion Plagiarism Does Not Exist

Left: The LV campaign for fall ready-to-wear. Right: My interpretation.

In many instances, plagiarism is deplorable. There is no greater intellectual crime in graduate school theses, journalism treatises or political speeches. But in other instances, like cooking, the line between inspiration and plagiarism becomes murky.

And when it comes to fashion, I would dare say that plagiarism does not exist. (Of course, I am not including counterfeit goods in this proclamation: Fakes are always despicable and inexcusable.)

Tan Jacket: Vivienne Westwood (Consignment) | Pink Collared Shirt: Equipment (Consignment) | Red Sweater: Old Navy | Metallic Pants: Free People (Macy's) | Chelsea Boos: Melagrano (Secondhand) | Necklaces: Gorjana | Earring: Target
Tan Jacket: Vivienne Westwood (Consignment) | Pink Collared Shirt: Equipment (Consignment) | Red Sweater: Old Navy | Metallic Pants: Free People (Macy’s) | Chelsea Boos: Melagrano (Secondhand) | Necklaces: Gorjana | Earring: Target

I could say that today’s outfit was inspired by the latest Louis Vuitton ad campaign, but that would be an enormous understatement.  This outfit is a copy of the campaign, which was shot by Juergen Teller to showcase Nicolas Ghesquiere’s first fall collection for the brand.

Left: The LV campaign for fall ready-to-wear. Right: My interpretation.
Left: The LV campaign for fall ready-to-wear. Right: My interpretation.

So, is today’s outfit categorized under the “inspiration” category — or copycatting? It is an interesting question, given that designers constantly poach ideas from their own archives, other decades and street style photos. When you factor in that today’s fast-paced fashion world is globalized, heavily advertised and virally transmitted via blogs and social media, everything related to style is fair game.

redsweater2But let’s get to the actual clothes. Vuitton has long favored heavily stylized, over-the-top campaigns for its accessories, but with Ghesquiere at the helm, this signifies a new artistic direction. (Take a look at this promotional video — the look is pared-down and stark. If Fiona Apple’s Criminal video had included a luxury car, the mood would be eerily similar.)

The look is also incredibly easy to recreate. Everyone has a button-up shirt. Everyone owns a crewneck sweater. Everyone has a blazer. Textured trousers and ankle boots are available at a smattering of affordable price points. Chances are, you could pull this outfit together tomorrow. It’s so easily accessible, I can’t help but wonder if this is a normcore homage — but I digress.

Statement Earring: Target | Necklaces: Gorjana
Statement Earring: Target | Necklaces: Gorjana

The devil is in the details. I echoed the campaign’s accessories with my own gold lariat and multi-textured statement earring. (In this trend cycle, you only wear ONE statement earring.)

I’m just grateful I didn’t try to scrape together the cash for the real deal. Given the recent pace of fashion, this outfit may be démodé by next week.

So you tell me: Is there a difference between fashion inspiration and plagiarism?