Paris Fashion Week 2017 was a whirlwind of different events. This was the first fashion week since Lucinda Chambers, former Fashion Director of British Vogue, was fired. The exposing interview with Chambers for Vestoj, a fashion news outlet, seemed to hang in the air all week. This caused a noisy silence within the walls of the couture shows. Chamber’s departure symbolizes a shift in the business. No one knows what is coming next and all eyes are on British Vogue.
Industry insiders lined the front rows all week to drink up what designers had to pour. One show, in particular, has been making waves in the industry, but, most likely, not for the reasons they had hoped. Viktor & Rolf, a European fashion house specializing in avant-garde couture, featured models wearing large doll-heads while walking down the runway. The show was praised for the interesting perspective that was offered to those who viewed it, but Parsons School of Design student, Terrence Zhou, was hit by what he saw.
In May of this year, Terrence applied for an internship with Viktor & Rolf and attached some of his work, pictured above, to his application. Zhou ended up being rejected for this internship for issues with his passport, and so he assumed he should just move on after this rejection. Two months later he viewed Viktor & Rolf’s Couture Fall 2017 collection and was shocked at the similarity to his designs that he submitted to the fashion house.
I had the opportunity to speak to Terrence about the situation at hand, but he made the decision to revoke the comments that he made in our interview for personal reasons. I completely understand his decision, because of the fragility of your reputation in the industry. Any dirt on your name can ruin your chances at having a successful career.
Terrence wasn’t sure what could be done about the alleged copying without potentially damaging his chances when it comes to working in the industry in the future. With the fashion business being the way that it is, it can be really hard to make the decision to speak out. Copying is no new concept in this industry and this attention is raising hopes that this will start a necessary conversation.
Young designers have no way to protect their work when applying for internships and jobs. Their work can easily be stolen, copied or viewed as inspiration without consent. This is an important change that needs to be made because student designers are the future of the fashion industry. They deserve to have their creative abilities respected and honored. Internships are a must for fashion students, so having their work compromised shouldn’t be a concern when they send in applications. Hopefully, this situation will be fairly handled and have a positive impact on the futures of student designers.