They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but this homage to Victoria Beckham’s VB design is less imitation, more complete rip-off. Worn by TOWIE’s Sam Faiers last night, CelebBoutique.com’s version of Victoria’s distinctive cat-print dress has attempted to entirely mimic VB’s version, with its red and white cats printed on an orange background and almost identical cut.
The only features that tell it apart (at a distance) are the orange strip down the front, the shorter hemline and the way the fabric pulls and gapes (though to be fair, that could be as much down to the curves of the person wearing the dress as an ungenerous pattern cutter).
Sam Faiers in the VB rip-off from Celeb Boutique, left, and right, Victoria in the genuine article
We’re not naive enough to think that many designers – high end or otherwise – are coming up with a continuous stream of new ideas. Everyone from Karl Lagerfeld to Topshop’s designers and, yes, Victoria herself, plunder archives (their own or others’), reference history, and go to galleries, museums and fashion shows for inspiration.
And a certain level of ‘inspiration’ trickling down from designs of couture houses, or up from the street is normal – fashion is a cyclical art form, and this is how trends are created. It’s just when someone’s work is blatantly stolen to this extent that we feel uneasy.
CelebBoutique.com has made its living out of ripping off other designers’ work, and their biggest sellers are their Herve Leger bandage dress copies, although they’ve copied dresses by everyone from Gucci to Roland Mouret and back again.
Nothing they do is original – but then, their customers could never pay the £2,000+ necessary for the genuine versions of the dresses on the site, so the brands themselves won’t necessarily suffer from losing such customers. And prices for designer dresses are undoubtedly way inflated.
Hands off Sam – this cat is MINE
But nonetheless there’s something about Celeb Boutique’s blatant intellectual property theft that just feels wrong. The law is complicated, but one of the fundamental elements is the likeness test. Both garments are literally held up in court, and a judge decides if one could reasonably be mistaken for the other. In this case, undoubtedly, it could.
With the exception of the Leger copies, which mimic the genuine article’s short length, Celeb Boutique might hack a few inches off the hemline to satisfy the needs of its TOWIE-esque customer, or render it in a different colour, say lime green or fuchsia, but otherwise makes their version of the dresses look almost identical at first glance, to the real deal.
On closer inspection of course, Celeb Boutique’s naff-o-rama, too-short versions look like must be made from flammable fabric that would bring you out in a rash if you ran for the bus.
But at £99 for a designer-look outfit instead of a grand, do the people buying them even care?
WHAT’S THE VERDICT, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY THEFT, OR FAIR GAME?
Kim Kardashian in Herve Leger, around £2,000, and right, the Celeb Boutique rip off for £119.99
Cheryl Cole in the original Michael Kors dress, £955, and right, the £99.99 Celeb Boutique version