“Being copied is the ransom of success.”
Back at that time, when there were not as many designers as today and fashion design itself was not as wide spread and mass produced, Chanel was proudly smiling, when women on the streets were wearing jackets that looked like hers.
However, in 1930, when Suzanne Laneil copied 48 Chanel and Vionnet designs, they realized, that this could be dangerous for their business. By the court decision, Copyist was recognized as guilty and designer’s work was called “ the real work of Art”.
Today, fashion business based on looking at things and being “ inspired” by other peoples work. Designers often seem to be talking before producing stuff –that much similar work you can find on runways. Many designers, although, trying to reach their customer following same trends.
However the counterfeits and cheap fakes, that looks almost identically is of course a different story. It is illegal and dangerous business that often takes people’s lives or freedom away.
To begin with, Coco Chanel was one of the most innovative designers. She was different from others and never mentioned her background, trying to hide her poor past. Gabriel was not a very beautiful woman, but her passion to design and hard work through years made her name one of the most recognizable in the fashion industry today. First, with the sponsorship from her boyfriend, she opened a hat shop. After becoming experienced enough she started to design clothes.
She was the one who liberated women from the corsets and “dropped the waist”, she was one of first to use Jersey and tweed, just because they were cheap. Although she decorated them with an enormous amount of work so that her tweed suit were of the more value. She brought to the fashion World real pockets and bell- buttons, she designed belted cardigans and was a first to create popular “Little black dress”. She was one of those realist designers and mostly designed clothes for herself. If she was going for a dinner –she was making an evening dress, if she travelled to St. Tropez- a swimming suit. She designed what people would wear. “ Anything that skins the body, has simple shapes, is easy to move in and affords the loading on of a lot of jewelry is Chanel.”
One of the significant and the most copied designs was an Iconic tweed suit- jacket and skirt. Chanel though that knees are the less sexy part of the women’s body and made the skirt of the suit just below the knee. With this creation she achieved the aim of every designer- to create something stylish that will become classical. She managed to keep it fashionable for five decades and when she died in 1971 her name could have died too.
Although, when Karl Lagerfeld won the competition, using tweed in an interesting way and transformed the classical form of the Chanel suit using a “surf theme”, he became a senior designer of Chanel Fashion House.
Today, Karl is trying to keep the Chanel origins. For a two-piece tweed suit is always used frayed edges, ribbon accents, decorative shirring uneven hemlines, gilt trim and different texture mixture. “Chanel’s trademark couture construction techniques in its bound buttonholes, matched plates and chain weighted hemline “. Suit has also a silk lining.
The significance of Chanel today is can be simply described with four words: Heritage, Signature, Cut and Material of use.
Each season Karl Lagerfeld redesigning iconic Chanel suit. He is using new colors and cuts, reinventing the original Coco’s design.
What is so paradoxes about fashion industry that it is based on looking at the things were done before and remaking, redrawing, redesigning them?
In order to keep the image of the company, new hired designers need to use the same principles and create the same feeling, although adapted to a new modern World and stylish women of today. Customers want to have the same look, as it is created before. For example, Coco Chanel said: “A girl should be two things: Classy and fabulous.” This style however spreads rapidly through all social levels. Zara, H&M and Top Shop copy the popular model. It is nothing wrong with it, almost; as those who cant afford the real design, also want to look fashionable. Although, they know that these clothes would last long, because of it is weaker quality. People also get tired of the clothes quick, and for some there is no reason to spend a lot of money to but one original thing. Such a thing is obsolescence can describe the strategy of fashion business. Even when something is in a good order it becomes unwanted.
With a rise of new technologies and popularity of Internet, it is difficult to prevent or even follow the great amount of the products that have been “inspired” by the real thing. Photos from the fashion week show are published in the sites like Style.com 30 minutes later, but collections are on the shop only next season. Plenty of time to make a copy and sell it to someone who isn’t aware. A designer ‘s strength is in the showing first, when there is an even a poor imitation, that was showing or seen before, it is a lost of power.
Moreover, the real problem is what stands behind cheap counterfeits. Usage of children, like slaves, usually unpaid or paid very little and are risking to get arrested for being involved in a illegal business. Poor quality of the products, toxic materials of use, and many other issues comes to the head with the word counterfeits.
To conclude with, fashion design is about looking at existing and historically important thing and reworking them or picking up on a detail, that works, using your imagination, trying to explore your way of seeing. Although just copying process have nothing to do with designing, as of lack of use imaginary aspect.