Quel hom­mage!

London Evening Standard (West End Final B) - ES Magazine - - Seven Days -

Fash­ion has al­ways in­volved im­i­ta­tion, oth­er­wise the world would be a good deal clearer on, say, the prove­nance of the lit­tle black dress (Singer Sar­gent’s Madame X? Whar­ton’s Ellen Olen­ska? Coco Chanel? Your Great-aunt Maud?). A quick glance at any glossy women’s mag­a­zine, how­ever, and one thing is ap­par­ent: call it ‘splurge vs steal’, or dress it up as an ‘hom­mage’, but copy­ing in fash­ion is rife.

Here, a plas­tic-look­ing ‘ trib­ute’ to Dior mules; there a sleek, Cé­line-style tote for £70 as op­posed to sev­eral thou­sand. (In fact, among fash­ion- for­ward gals, the cat­walk-cog­nisant chain Zara is known as ‘Zara Prada’, so swift is its abil­ity to un­veil a high-qual­ity cat­walk looka­like.) Away from the high street, a ver­sion of Kate Mid­dle­ton’s wed­ding dress – the orig­i­nal of which took Mcqueen’s Bri­tish ar­ti­sans months to cre­ate by hand – was avail­able in China within six hours. A week may be a long time in pol­i­tics, but it’s the blink of an eye in high street copy­cat­ting.

As a con­se­quence, where once only Louis Vuit­ton de­fended its hon­our with any zeal, now any­body who is any­body is strut­ting to court. Chris­tian Louboutin and Yves Saint Lau­rent are slug­ging it out over the own­er­ship – or oth­er­wise – of scar­let soles. In the past, YSL took on Ralph Lau­ren for too closely re­pro­duc­ing a dress. Chloé brought ac­tions against Kookai re­gard­ing a £35 hand­bag strik­ingly sim­i­lar to its £1,000 Sil­ver­ado, and against Top­shop over a frock. Jimmy Choo was a have-a-go hero re­gard­ing its hand­bags, to which M&S strayed too near, and de­fended its shoe designs against New Look, Oa­sis and Jane Shilton. Mon­soon and H& M have brought ac­tions against Pri­mark for copy­ing their cloth­ing.

Hand­bags, heels and hem­lines at dawn is the

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