Let’s Talk about Karl

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Karl Lagerfeld and his beloved cat, Choupette. Photo credit: Women’s Wear Daily

Beginning your career as an assistant to Pierre Balmain portends a pretty great future in fashion. That was certainly true for Karl Lagerfeld.  Add stints at Jean Patou and Chloé and his current positions as Creative Director at Fendi and Chanel, and his career seems touched by divinity.   But Karl was so much more than titles at fashion houses. Karl is a legend. He innovated constantly, never lost touch with what’s new, and listened to no one but himself (and perhaps his cat, Choupette).  At 85, he influenced influenced more than half a century of fashion worldwide and is an over-the-top fashion icon for several generations of fashionistas. The long white hair tied in a ponytail, the black and white ensembles, and the ever-present black sunglasses and gloves only add to his chic mystique. His “look” is part uniform, part branding, and part crisp German perfectionism.

A little-known sketch by Karl Lagerfeld, photographed in the FENDI headquarters in Rome, Italy.

Some of his appeal stems from his unfiltered honesty and outrageous quotes.   One of my personal favorites is, “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat.  You lost control of your life and so you bought a pair of sweatpants.” I can’t even read that line without chuckling.

And then there is his almost-as-famous cat, Choupette. Anyone with a beloved pet can appreciate his love and attention to Choupette, but because he’s Karl, he’s taken this love to an outlandish level.  Choupette has two maids and gets her own hotel room when they travel. He’s said that he would marry Choupette if it were legal, adding, “I never thought I would fall in love like this with a cat.”

Karl, who invented the Fendi double F logo (which stands for “Fun Fur”) and who is an accomplished photographer and artist as well as a fashion designer, surprisingly dismisses the notion that fashion is art, one of the pillars of truth for those in the fashion world.

Equating fashion to art might be taking things just a bit too seriously for Karl. After all, this is the guy who says, “Everything I say is a joke. I am a joke myself.”

DESIGNER SERIES: Varun Bahl, Indian Couturier

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“What is couture if not absolutely bespoke, both in make as well as concept?” – Varun Bahl Photo Credit: ELLE India November 2015


I was blown away when I visited Varun Bahl‘s studio in Delhi, India in 2011.  It was mesmerizing to see up close the details of the hand embroidery, beadwork, and embellishments that make up so many of his designs.  Varun is a true couturier. Nothing is mass-produced – it wouldn’t be possible with the level of intricacy in the textiles. And the good thing is,  textiles and patterns are among those fashion design elements – some of the few – that are almost universally protected by intellectual property laws.

India is one of the world’s leading producers of textiles-the sixth largest global exporter of textiles in the world.  India’s Copyright Act (1957) and the Design Act (2000) collectively give the guidelines for copyright protection for designs and textiles, as well as geographical indication protection for some textiles. Like many other jurisdictions, registration of a textile design in India is strongly encouraged to secure protection and reduce potential liability from or opposition by another party.

And although many countries offer copyright protection for fashion garments in their entirety, the United States does not. Various legislators and members of the fashion industry have worked tirelessly to gain support for the Innovative Design Protection Act (IDPA), a proposed amendment to the Copyright Act that would give US copyright protection for full fashion designs, expanding on the current US protection that only extends to certain elements of the designs. By doing so, the US protection of fashion designs would reach a level of protection comparable to many European and Asian countries, India included.

Photo Credit: Harper’s Bazaar Bride India

Varun can rest easy in the knowledge that many of the unique and amazing features of his garments rightfully enjoy strong protection globally.  Fashion designs are not protected equally around the world but textiles are given almost universal proteciton.

If you’d like to know more about how to protect and/or register your copyright for designs or textiles, contact me at layne@laynerandolph.com.

Thanks to Varun Bahl for his cooperation with this post. If you’d like to learn more about Varun Bahl and see more of his designs, you can find him on Facebook or at his website VARUN BAHL.  

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Are Fashion Bloggers Ruining NY Fashion Week?

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New York Fashion Week

Fashion week has become “20 million people with zero connection to the clothes.” – Oscar de la Renta

There is a new movement happening around New York fashion week. Many fashion professionals believe that the hordes of wanna-be and real fashion fans/bloggers have seriously mucked up the affair.  The result is that many true fashion insiders are reluctant to attend, causing some to wonder whether fashion bloggers are ruining NY Fashion Week.  IMG, the company that organizes Fashion Week, is trying to revamp what has “developed into a cluttered, often cost-prohibitive and exhausting period for [the] industry to effectively do business,” according to Catherine Bennett, senior vice president and managing director for IMG (Courtesy of NYMag).

Others argue that fashion bloggers bring new interest to Fashion Week and make it accessible to all.  Many fashion bloggers attend Fashion Week only to try to grab some attention by wearing outrageous street fashion to use for their own publicity.  But these bloggers also provide free advertising for the designers.  But of course the free advertising also provides free publicity to the blogger, who often has no legitimate tie to the fashion industry other than stalking Fashion Weeks and vying to be photographed.  The media focus from the fashion model to the little known blogger is ubiquitous, and not everyone is happy about it.

New plans for how to manage these adaptations to the industry include strictly limiting invitations to legitimate fashion industry insiders and thereby limiting those with what IMG describes as having a “tenuous connection to the fashion industry” from crashing the party, at least inside the shows.





Let’s face it: fashion and luxury are pretty superficial. But here’s a chance for all fashionistas to be do-gooders too.  Help the young women of the Cheyenne River reservation experience an American rite of passage – high school prom! Donate your gently used items and make some sweet kids really happy.

You can find details on the Cheyenne River Youth Project here.

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DVF Takes Christian Louboutin’s Side In Case Against YSL

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by Julia Rubin of Styleite | 10:36 am, January 25th, 2012

Yes, Christian Louboutin is still battling it out with Yves Saint Laurent over his patented red sole.

But things are looking up for the shoe mogul, who sat before a panel of Appeals Court judges yesterday afternoon. Back in August, Manhattan judge Victor Marrero denied Louboutin a preliminary injunction and raised doubts about the validity of his red sole trademark. Louboutin’s lawyers immediately followed an appeal, and a hearing was held yesterday.

Louboutin’s lawyer argued that Marrero mistakenly interpreted the trademark as applying to all shades of red, instead of the brand’s very specific shade of Chinese red. YSL’s lawyers argued that the company often makes monochrome shoes, and that they do not think it would be fair to be barred from producing all-red ones.

Much to Louboutin’s delight, the judges criticized Marrero’s opinion. A decision has yet to be announced, but it looks like the original verdict could very well be overturned, thus allowing a proper trial to commence. If that’s the case, it’s possible YSL would choose to settle instead.

Diane von Furstenberg attended the hearing with Louboutin, who told WWD that this was a very serious matter for him:

“For YSL and [its parent company] PPR Group, this might just be a legal matter, but that’s not the case for me. On the contrary, to me it is very personal: After all, this is an intrinsic part of my life and my company, which bears my name — and which I have built over the past 20 years and still independently own. This is why I had to be there in person.”

The Fashion Law Case of 2011 – Louboutin v. YSL

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The Louboutin v. YSL lawsuit  is proving to be the most interesting and informative fashion law case of the year.  Most recently, the International Trademark Association (“INTA”) published its perspective on the legal issues involved, a perspective that conflicts with the judge’s most recent ruling in the case.  This development followed on the heels of Tiffany’s amicus brief submitted to the court in favor of Louboutin.  It’s only going to get more interesting as the case proceeds.  For those of you interested in yet another perspective on the case (one that is not favorable to Louboutin), Charles Colman has publlshed an analysis at Styleite.  For an analysis of INTA’s position, go to the Canada Fashion Law site.