Fakes on Film
Please pass the popcorn -- fakes are appearing on and around film quite frequently of late.
In an early scene from Diane English's remake of the 1939 gem The Women, Annette Bening's magazine editor character goes shopping. At Saks, which presumably paid dearly for some heavy-handed brand placement throughout the movie. With only 5 minutes devoted to the task, the character's sharply honed, encyclopedic fashion vision (or perhaps it's her oversized sunglasses) allows her to target and identify specific products as they cross her line of vision. Designer, item, and price instantly appear on screen -- as does an alert regarding the Canal Street origin of a fellow shopper's fake. It's as if a military contractor had taken up Counterfeit Chic's favorite sport -- fakespotting -- and developed top-secret search-and-destroy technology. Sadly, despite an all-star cast and a fierce fashion show sequence courtesy of Narciso Rodriguez, the film's plot doesn't stand the test of time particularly well.
Although Lifetime engaged Shirley MacLaine to channel Coco Chanel in her later years, they apparently didn't spring for vintage couture. The costume credits went instead to Stefano De Nardis and Pierre-Yves Gayraud. Shirley probably wasn't too bothered, however, as she admitted to WWD last January that she'd worn knockoffs of the designer's fashions all through the 1950s and 60s. Of perhaps greater concern was the meager use of Ms. MacLaine merely as a framing device for a rather sentimental biography of Mlle. Chanel as a young woman -- and the distracting shifts in accent between the senior and junior actresses. Dressing Shirley MacLaine in Chanel copies and asking her to intone a few of Coco's most notable quotes does not make for great television.
A faux fashion-related film that I have not seen, but that has received better early reviews, is Plastic City. This Japanese, Brazilian, and French co-production by Chinese director Yu Lik-wai is set in an underworld where "the goods are fake, but the money is real," and it revolves around a counterfeit kingpin and his adopted son. In other words, not exactly your basic chick flick.
And speaking of criminal connections, there are hard truths and real dangers behind all of these fictional fakes -- and filmmaker Richard Van Dam of Investigative Films is determined to reveal them. He's hard at work on a documentary about counterfeits, and you can help by visiting his website and sharing your stories. Richard's investigations have taken him around the world, including your favorite law prof's office (dangerous in its own way, perhaps!), and his tales of adulterated pharmaceuticals, deadly electronic devices, and child labor are quite shocking. When this film opens, Counterfeit Chic will be first in line -- for a "hold the popcorn, pass the Scotch" kind of experience.