COPYCAT OR FLATTERY?

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”

These are the words of one Oscar Wilde, a playwright and author from 1800s who’s quote remains a go to place even in 2017 because one can’t just take and not compliment another right?

Paledi Segapo in a design similar to Siphosihle Masango's design

Last week, the “black carpet” of the 16th MetroFM Music Awards in Durban played itself as yet another stage where “copycats” and name calling space for celebs who dared replicate garments of international if not local fashion designers.

One celeb to be labelled was designer Paledi Segapo who wore a Thandolwethu Piliso blue draped suit design, which saw him getting into a social media spat with David Tlale’s intern designer Siphosihle Masango, who alleged that the designer had stolen his creation.

Initially Tlale –who’s since deleted the post – first confronted Segapo on instagram with a picture of Masango’s creation which he captioned: “It was first my black lip, designs… now you are on to my interns @paledisegapo you gotta stop… design on the left is by @sihle_snow [Masango].”

Segapo, founder and creative director of Palse designer clothing brand, recanted: “@davidtlale its imperative to get facts right, we need to learn to apply a level of emotional intelligence and I'm sorry I didn't know you’ve invented goth lip. Thanks!"

Segapo has since released a statement regarding the matter stating that he was “disappointment to find himself in the midst of accusations indicative of design theft amongst other things”.

“As a designer I pride myself in my work and my brand and as such would never do anything to put it in jeopardy. It is not only unethical but also disrespectful to pass off another creatives work as that of your own.

“The fashion industry at large is a competitive one and can get very mean. It is up to us as individuals to rise above it and support each other where possible, hence my supporting emerging designers either through mentorship or providing them the needed exposure,” continued Segapo.

This comes after Masango showcasws a similar garment last year at Mercedez Benz Fashion Week in August 2016, but Piliso claimed that he "created the look in July 2016".

But this happens everywhere, locally and internationally take for example the recent saga of Hayley Scanlan, who has twice been named Young Scottish Designer of the Year, who claimed New Look copied one of her t-shirts.

The £11.99 top from the New Look teenage range features the same slogan ‘Midnight Blue’ in a very similar lettering and includes the phrase ‘Stay True’ – just like Hayley’s exclusive collection.

The 32-year-old designer, from Dundee, Scotland, whose outfits have been worn by stars including Little Mix, Jessie J, The Saturdays and a host of others, took to social media to slam the clothing giant.

In an angry post Hayley said: “Not only have you completely copied the name of my last collection (and also noticeably the “Stay True” part my sister & I came up with) but you’ve used pretty much the exact same font for a T-shirt currently selling in your stores and online, blatantly making money from my work.”

And then on February 14, Alexander Wang suggested designer Philipp Plein, who staged a high profile and celebrity infested show last month in New York, might have copied one of his own past productions. Then, Wang appended the nore with side-by-side comparison.

Bonang Matheba

Minnie Dlamini

Rebecca Malope and Boity Thulo

Bonang Matheba and Kim Kardashian

Minnie Dlamini and Thando Duma

Then there was the Kylie Jenner versus Rihanna jumpsuit of which Jenner posted on instagram while on vacation in Costa Rica with the rest of the Kardashian crew. Jenner posted several photos of one of her night out looks, but it was the jumpsuit that reportedly “looked oddly familiar to the olive green version Rihanna wote to the MTV VMA's last year" - which The Doll House Fashion claimed they designed first.

Also gracing the MetroFM Music Awards black carpet in a replica garment that sent tongues wagging was Mafikizolo singer Nhlanhla Nciza who looked ravishing in her black and white garment which looked almost similar to one that singer Janelle Monae wore to the Golden Globes. The Hidden Figures actress' dress was an Armani creation which she worked on with her personal stylist.

In cases of who wore it best, it’s fair to identify who wore it first. For example these celebs wore outfits other celebs had worn in the past.

But as far as fashion history is concerned, there really isn’t a copycat of a garment unless we dragged out all garments from as far back as 1600s or Shakespeare days to really see who copied who.

Until then, smile and wave at the garment and merely see it as “imitation” after all Oscar Wilde was correct because “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

What's your view on this?

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