This morning while perusing Twitter, I noticed a tweet between Julia Frakes from Bunny Bisous and John Januzzi, contributor at Refinery 29, I won’t rewrite it in its entirety, but it was something like “ENCHANTED! I love these . . . and a link (http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2010/02/kate-spades-book-bags-are-just-that.html), which of course I clicked through to, and that’s when I discovered a case of the chicken or the egg. In this instance, which came first? Olympia Le-Tan’s minaudières — based on first edition novels that belonged to her father, French artist Pierre Le-Tan — which have been on sale at Colette since 2009? Or Kate Spade’s idea for “Book Bags,” which don’t officially go on sale until August 2010? The answer seems obvious.
Is it really possible that Olympia Le-Tan‘s minaudières, which have been covered on wwd.com, Paris Vogue, and Interview, flew under the radar of Kate Spade’s creative director Deborah Lloyd, who was sweetly quoted as saying “We wanted to pretend we had our own little publishing house.”? I find that hard to believe. In the very least, shouldn’t her assistant have been familiar with Le-Tan’s bags?
I’m fully aware of the kind of “stealing” that goes on in the fashion industry, where in small designers are copied and uncompensated by big corporations, a la Urban Outfitters, Target, and in this case, possibly Liz Claiborne. And this appears to be just as blatant, with Le-Tan being the originator. As far as I know, the company hasn’t contracted the designer for work. Although, at the very least, it did get copyright permissions to use the covers of The Great Gatsby, Emma, and A Tale of Two Cities. But perhaps it should revisit its own literature on counterfeit merchandise, which by the way is punishable by imprisonment and fines.