Jean Paul Gaultier is speaking out about the Amy Winehouse-inspired collection that he put on the runway just months after the troubled singer's death. The collection and its obvious Amy Winehouse inspirations, which was shown as part of the Spring 2012 couture shows in Paris, was downright distasteful according to the late singer's family, who found it "upsetting," and "in poor taste."
Paris-based Gaultier has since spoken out about the collection, which he calls "an homage" to the "amazing, iconic" singer. He told British Vogue, “I was surprised when she died that no one in fashion made an homage to her. Her look was fabulous, fantastic – it was unique ... She naturally had the right make-up, the right earrings – it was a truly a style. And I love her voice, I love everything about her.”
While JPG may not be the first brand to look to Winehouse's style for inspiration - others have used her likeness ... namely, Karl Lagerfeld for his Pre-Fall 2008 collection for Chanel, Love Magazine, Numero and even Vogue Paris, amongst others - it is the first to do so after her death.
The associations went even further, as the models did, after all, smoke cigarettes while walking the runway to Winehouse's songs. As such, Winehouse's father, Mitch Winehouse, argued that JPG was using his daughter's image "to sell clothes," saying no one sought authorization to do so and did not offer to make a donation to The Amy Winehouse Foundation.
The Winehouse family's outrage over what could be deemed JPG profiting off of her likeness raises some interesting legal questions. Namely, do they have a cause of action against JPG for making up of Amy Winehouse's trademark beehive hair, cat-eye makeup, strategically placed mole and large hoop earrings? The case law, in the U.S., at least, certainly seems to side with Winehouse's estate.
You may recall the Vanna White vs. Samsung case, where Samsung used a robot resembling White next to a Wheel of Fortune-like game board in a television commercial. Although the Samsung ad did not use White's name or a photo of her, the court held that Samsung had infringed her right to publicity by using her image/identity.
The dissent here is pretty strong (In short: Overprotecting intellectual property is as just as problematic as under-protecting it, and this is an impermissible restriction on the First Amendment and fair use) but as of now, this is still good law - which does not bode well for JPG if the Winehouse family decides to purse this legally.
* This article was initially published in April 2012.