Vintage Find – Vintage Art Nouveau & Deco at Chanel & Anna Sui

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Chanel and Anna Sui shamelessly paid homage to the intricate era of Art Noveau and Deco with their RTW accessories for fall. It’s kind of refreshing to see another decade being used as reference besides the usual suspects of the ’50s and ’60s. And let’s face it, most designers are influenced by the past. But are these too much of a literal interpretation? What do you think?

chanel chain mail purse fall 2008 vintage chain mail purse
Chanel mesh purse fall 2008 vintage long mesh purse

This one is a blatant copy, unless it is indeed the same bag used as runway accoutrement.

anna sui vintage beaded purse fall 2008 vintage beaded purse

all bags on left: Chanel, Chanel, Anna Sui
all bags on right: 1930s mesh purse, available at Jewels USA $95
1920s long chain mail purse, available at Bobby Deenes Vintage, $225
antique beaded purse, not available but an exact match, at Dorthea’s Closet, $225

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1 Ang { 08.25.08 at 7:08 am }

Hey, that IS my bag!!! And an assistant to Sui bought it. I guess I’m flattered they found my site!!! Crazy to see it reproduced line for line, bead for bead!

2 Couture Allure { 08.25.08 at 7:30 am }

Wow! That’s a little too close for comfort! I don’t have an issue with designers using vintage for inspiration, but an exact copy? That’s fashion plagiarism.

3 Bijou { 08.25.08 at 9:04 am }

Wow that really is pretty much a beach for bead repro of that bag! Someone needs to spend more time wearing her thinking cap.

4 Ladies Who Lunch { 08.25.08 at 9:06 am }

I wonder if Anna Sui realises her “assistants” are copying vintage finds bead for bead and passing off the design as their own?

5 Jonathan { 08.25.08 at 2:15 pm }

ALthough it is an exact copy, because the purse predates 1927 it is not copyrightable. Anything created before 1927 is public domain.

6 Kristine { 08.25.08 at 8:03 pm }

Copyrightable or not, it’s still a total lack ethics.
I mean, my gosh. If you’re a DESIGNER, then DESIGN!

7 Ang { 08.26.08 at 5:30 am }

Apparently this happens all the time in the fashion industry and has become acceptable.
Interestingly, if you copy even a paragraph from a book into your own book of 1200 pages, its called plagiarism and very much looked down upon in literary circles.
But if you copy 95% of another person’s design work and add a bow, its celebrated!
My question is, where is the respect between designers, no matter that the one being copied isn’t identified and likely deceased? Where is the SELF respect by the current designers ripping off older designs?
Its a stark difference between how writers handle stealing copy and how designers handle stealing designs.

8 Sandra { 08.26.08 at 6:37 am }

I have to admit I am a bit disappointed with the blatant copy. If only Ann Sui’s designers had put some kind of modern spin on it.
The Chanel bags are updated and modern, although, given how close of a resemblance they have to original designs, I’d rather buy them vintage at a fraction of the cost.

9 Lollie Shopping { 08.26.08 at 2:27 pm }

Wow. I’m stunned. That’s just pure laziness and lack of creativity. I’m truly surprised. Call me naive. I’m really going to start thinking and looking twice from now on. Great post!

10 Ang { 08.26.08 at 3:01 pm }

I wonder why anyone would take a picture like that of the bag alone if it were only used for runway? On the Sui site this bag is used in the fashion show and another exactly the same but in black and silver is used as well. Do they offer pictures of runway accessories to the public if they’re not ever going to sell them?
Just curious.
If they did just use it and make a black one for runway, I guess thats one thing…….
This whole thing has really opened my eyes to a side of design that makes me a little ill.

11 Punk Glam Queen { 08.30.08 at 8:13 am }

I used to have a stall at the famous 26th St Flea Market in NYC about 15 years or so ago. I can tell loads of stories of the designers themselves (not to mention their assistants as well) coming and purchasing vintage clothing from me, then seeing *exact* replicas of those items in their next collections. The designers and their assistants would even give me wish lists of items they were looking for — specific designers, eras, details — and I’d call them when I found them. It happens all the time in the fashion industry.
I used to also be an indie designer (even further back in time) and I can’t tell you how many times I would be at a club/party where a famous designer would show up, then I’d find my design translated into high fashion, becoming an “iconic” look for the designer. (Main reason why I got out — was totally tired of someone else making gobs of money off me without so much as a thank you.)

12 Sandra { 08.30.08 at 11:57 am }

Punk glam Queen,
thanks for sharing your experience! Seeing your designs copied must have been heartbreaking.

13 Punk Glam Queen { 08.31.08 at 8:09 am }

Sandra, it *was* heartbreaking after working so hard. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m sour grapes… I got recognition in other ways, and it was a very fun, creative time of my life. It just got ridiculous after awhile, and I wasn’t willing to fork over control to some moneybags so I could grow as a designer.

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