After coming under fire for its “degrading” Fall/Winter 2017 ad campaign, Yves Saint Laurent is coming under fire for copying, according to a Senegalese designer. The French fashion house, which recently unveiled its Fall/Winter 2017 collection on the runway during Paris Fashion Week, has been called out by designer Sarah Diouf for allegedly ripping off one of her original purse designs. The piece at issue? An elongated, baguette-like purse.
In what has been a widely-covered saga, many sites have reported that Diouf took to Twitter on the heels of the Saint Laurent show to accuse the brand and its creative director Anthony Vaccarello of copying her bag design, tweeting: “You know you're a grown up when your first reflex is to lawyer up.” She claimed the YSL bag is a “perfect replica” of her own label’s statement bag, titled “Mburu,” which translate to “bread” in the Wolof language.
Of the alleged YSL copy, Diouf told OkayAfrica, “This is our bag … our signature accessory. And there is no chance they could have seen it elsewhere because where else have you seen a 10x60 centimeter long baguette bag before?” Diouf claims that she presented the bag design last year to colleagues, who were eager to dismiss the bag idea. She went on to state: “We all know trends come and go, but when it comes to something that never came from anywhere else but yourself, you feel robbed from the inside. And that’s a feeling I have never experienced before.”
What has yet to be covered by any of the publications that have taken on this story: Does Diouf actually have any legal grounds to file the lawsuit she wants to file? Well, that is, of course, up for debate, but chances are, the answer is a resounding, No! Given copyright law’s failure to protect useful articles (read: garments and accessories) in their entirety, and the ill-fit of trademark law, patent law may be her only recourse. A design patent is a form of legal protection that is granted to the ornamental design of a functional item. In short, it protects the way an item looks. While this may be a fitting form of protection, assuming that the design of Diouf’s purse is, in fact, novel, Diouf lacks a registered design patent to claim rights in.
With such a seeming lack of rights in mind, it will be interesting to see how matter unfolds – if there are any further devlopments at all.