THE FASHION LAW EXCLUSIVE - After being sued almost exactly a year ago for copyright infringement in connection with her 26-piece alphabet capsule collection (that case appears to be close to settlement), Mary Katrantzou has come under fire again, this time allegedly copying the work of Akiyoshi Kitaoka. A famed professor of psychology at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan – who specializes in visual perception and visual illusions of geometrical shape, brightness, and color in motion illusions and other visual phenomena – Kitaoka holds copyrights in a number of optical illusion designs, including “Rotating Snakes” and “Blue Sun.” Lookalike designs appeared on garments in London-based Katrantzou’s Spring/Summer 2017 collection.
On the heels of Katrantzou’s S/S 2017 runway show, which took place in London in September, Kitaoka confirmed that the designs were not part of an official collaboration between the two parties. While Kitaoka has not filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Katrantzou, his agent, Kanzen, has been in talks with the designer’s team since the show regarding her alleged use of the designs. Speaking exclusively to TFL, Kitaoka confirmed: “About one week ago, my agent Kanzen granted retrospective approval to use the designs to Mary Katrantzou’s office” for an undisclosed sum.
Far from an unknown source, Kitaoka’s work has been featured by NPR, Quartz, the Verge, Slate, and Self, among others, and British publications like BBC News, the Guardian, Telegraph, Independent, and Mirror, particularly when his “Ninio's Extinction Illusion” went viral in September 2016. Kitaoka’s work has also be the subject of an array of literature published by University College London.
As for his thoughts on the matter with Katrantzou, Kitaoka merely said: “I believe that such a case is too bad for your society as well as for ours."
A representative for Mary Katrantzou opted not to comment on the matter.