Friday, March 14, 2014

On LVMH Prize and Stolen Intellectual Property

The second wait for the LVMH Prize is over - the first was the announcement of the 1, 221 semi-finalists from around the world.

After thorough screening of the over a thousand designers from 16 countries, the 12 finalists for the inaugural LVMH Prize have been announced -- and sadly, neither of our own - Maki OH and Orange Culture made it. Hey, the experience was worth it.

Chris Gelinas, Gabriele Colangelo, Hood by Air’s Shayne Oliver, Jacquemus’ Simon Porte, Nikita and Tina Sutradhar of Miuniku, Thomas Tait, Tillmann Lauterbach, Tim Coppens, Simone Rocha, Suno’s Erin Beatty and Max Osterweis, Vika Gazinskaya, and Atto’s Julien Dossena are the 12 shortlisted designers for the inaugural LVMH Prize.

On 28 May, the finalists will meet with an all-star jury of LVMH designers who will make the final selection with Pierre-Yves Roussel, Jean-Paul Claverie, and Delphine Arnault.

While this still, is a good opportunity for Nigerian designers - Maki OH and Orange Culture, it is also a great international 'launch-out' for them. No doubt, they've gained more recognition home and abroad and definitely will experience more push, my concern is that to a certain extent they've been exposed to scrutiny as well as intellectual ‘danger’ - they've been seen, their designs have been 'experienced' and perhaps stolen/mimicked. So, how safe are they now - in terms of creative and intellectual property protection?

It's great to be launched into the world - especially the fashion world, but the risk of being used is undeniable - especially for an outsider, African.

I read an article on HauteFashionAfrica recently about copied designs (Deola Sagoe vs Stella McCartney, Jewel by Lisa vs Burberry and Lanre Da Silva vs Dolce & Gabbana) - not quite a concrete article from the writer but I reasoned with the abstract points which I felt the writer left unattended to rather than hanging. The point here is, do we play at a risk of getting exploited with international collaborations/opportunities or are we just satisfied with the 'publicity' we gain therein?

There are several questions I can’t stop pondering on but I guess that's left to our designers - creative people in general to define. True, "you never know till you try" but if no one stands to fight/write/speak about these issues (a fashion body maybe) how do we succeed and truly be recognized on a larger scale? What’s the trusty to stolen intellectual property – fashion, and how do you {as a designer} come out to say confidently about the design precisely your? Well, except it’s all a game of inspired creativity where another’s idea is recreated to fit one’s aesthetics…or not?

It's known that intellectual property protection does not apply for fashion and art but again like the saying, "what you see is what you believe" - we see these copied acts (local vs international: JBL & Burberry and international vs local:  Dolce & Gabbana & Moofa) how then do we defend the debatable?

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