Not everyone was taken with John Galliano's triumphant return to fashion last month by way of his Artisanal collection for Maison Margiela. In fact, the former Dior creative director is coming under fire in connection with the two-toned tights that he showed with the first two looks of his collection, and I'm here to tell you that the allegations are ridiculous at best. Designer Beau Rhee, who reportedly showed similar tights in a collection for NYC-based brand, Atelier de Geste in 2013, took to her Instagram account, posting side-by-side photos, along with the caption: "Just saw the Margiela Artisanal collection that debuted in London this AM. The [Atelier de Geste] design from 2013 flanks the 1st look from this Galliano for @maisonmargiela 2015 collection. I suppose imitation is the best flattery. Blatant knockoff or Impossible coincidence? Galliano trolling for design ideas from emerging designers? He is already known for his not-so-sensitive conscience."
What is the legality of the situation here? We know that copyright law in the U.S. largely prohibits the protection of garments and accessories in their entirety, as they are deemed to be utilitarian in nature, and thus, not subject to protection unless they meet the separability test. While the two-toned nature of the tights is not a required element for their usefulness, and thus, may be deemed to be separable from their underlying function, there is something else that prohibits protection. Rhee's design is not that novel.
You may recall that for Fall/Winter 2010, Paris-based design house Celine showed two-toned boots. Two-toned pants were subsequently all over the Spring/Summer 2012 runways (think: Gucci, Michael van der Ham, Celine, Antonio Berardi, 3.1 Phillip Lim, etc. showed them). And all the while, jester-inspired costumes have included two-toned tights for many years. As such, even if the tights at issue are protectable, the copyright holder would not be Rhee, and so, let's put this alleged copyright infringement story to bed because it simply is not merited.