Would Fashion Copyright Have Made Kate Middleton's Knockoff Wedding Dress Illegal?
from the oops dept
Right after the big royal wedding a few months back, Susan Scafidi, the law professor who is one of the leading supporters of putting in place a totally unnecessary and economically damaging "fashion copyright," used the wedding to support her arguments for fashion copyright. She suggested how unfortunate it would be that Kate Middleton's wedding dress would now be knocked off and used by other brides. It seems the "Kate Middleton's dress" example is popular among supporters of fashion copyright. In the NY Times, Steven Kolb, director of the Council for Fashion Designers of America (the main organization pushing for this bill), described Kate Middleton's wedding dress as the perfect example of what fashion copyright could protect:
See the dress on the right? That's Kate Middleton in her dress. On the left? That's Isabella Orsini, goddaughter of the Italian Prime Minister, marrying Belgian Prince Edouardo de Ligne... two years ago. The dresses were made by different designers. Orsini's by Gerald Watelet, Middleton's by Sarah Burton. As Blakley notes:
Mr. Kolb said that Kate Middleton’s wedding dress would probably be a good exampleInteresting. Except... as Johanna Blakley points out, it turns out that Kate Middleton's dress... was a knockoff itself!
We’d all like to think that we can recognize newness and originality when we see it, but it’s actually quite hard to do. Even Steven Kolb, who is completely immersed in the fashion world, had trouble choosing a good example of a dress that is different from all designs that have preceded it.And, of course, there's really nothing new under the sun in many of these cases. For example, some people have pointed out that both dresses appear quite similar to the dress worn at another famous royal wedding... over fifty years ago. See the photo below of Grace Kelly marrying the Prince of Monaco: