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Green with Envy

When an eco-conscious fashion industry declared green the new black, many designers were inspired to give the message a literal twist.  Spring collections from Lanvin to Versace to Diane von Furstenberg included dresses straight from the Emerald City.  And when Keira Knightley donned a green satin gown for her star turn in Atonement, the green revolution was complete. 

Ever since reading that Keira's dress, a custom creation by costume deigner Jacqueline Durran, had topped a popular poll of the best movie gowns of all time, Counterfeit Chic has been on the lookout for the inevitable knockoff.  It didn't take long.  Faviana not only duplicated the dress, but invited Access Hollywood to observer the process.  The results?  Style #6199, USD $238, coming soon to a prom near you.

Legal?  In the U.S., where Faviana is based, certainly.  In the gown's U.K. home, however, fashion is protected by design rights.  Thus, unless the design's owner has leased it to Faviana, any copies that make their way back to the source will violate the law. 

Should it matter that Keira's dress (or rather, the series of identical dresses necessary for the delicate garment to survive filming) has been presented to the public only on film, and not made available for purchase?  Under the letter of either U.K. or E.U. law, design protection exists whether or not the garment ever becomes an article of commerce.  It's technically up to either the costume designer or the filmmaker, depending on who owns the deisgn, to decide whether anyone else should be able to copy Keira.

But what about the long tradition of film influencing fashion?  Well, even in jurisdictions with design protection, there will be no shortage of long, green dresses this spring -- one can follow Keira's lead even without having access to a close copy.  And given the trend toward stylists launching their own lines, not to mention the ever-increasing movie merchandise tie-ins, it's hard to imagine non-U.S. costume deisgners who already have protection giving it up.  We're more likely to see authorized copies made available in conjunction with popular films than any kind of legal exception for turning celluloid fantasies into silken realities. 

As for me, while Keira's gown is lovely, I'll be holding out for pretty much anything Audrey Hepburn ever wore on camera.  (Thank you, M. Givenchy!)