The Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York has opened a new exhibit dedicated to the history of authorized and unauthorized copying of designs in the fashion industry.
Titled as ‘Faking It: Originals, Copies, and Counterfeits’, the event charts the evolution of counterfeiting practices through a comparative study between the original designs and their imitations.
With pieces dated from 1903 to present day, the exhibition also provides insight into how the extreme popularity of designer dresses has encouraged the counterfeiting business in the industry.
Organized by FIT’s assistant curator of costume and textiles, Ariele Elia, the exhibit begins with two identical suits from 1966- an original by Coco Chanel and a licensed copy—alongside a video featuring side-by-side comparisons of the suits.
Slated to run till April 25, 2015, the display also features authentic 1903 purple velvet, chenille, chiffon and silk made afternoon dress from Charles Frederick Worth, an unauthorized reproduction of French designer Madeleine Vionnet’s Little Horses dress from 1924.
Also the Brian Lichtenberg created red coloured cotton, polyester and rubber made Homiés ensemble (2014), a 2007 silk dress by Yohji Yamamoto and a 1947 silk, wool faille and horsehair crafted Nettie Rosenstein dress have formed a part of the expansive exhibition.
Couturiers such as Madeleine Vionnet implemented various initiatives to stop knock offs of her designs, such as marking her label with her thumbprint in order to authenticate each creation. Likewise, in an effort to battle unauthorized copying during the 1930s, the Fashion Originators’ Guild of America started registering fashion designers’ work.
The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture struggled with maintaining the exclusivity of haute couture, while promoting it through press coverage and licensed copies. When the couture industry began to re-stabilize after World War II, the struggle intensified. The high demand for Christian Dior’s famed 1947 collection led to many unauthorized copies of his silhouette.