Sunday, October 15, 2017

Copy Cattiness on Project Runway

Claire and Shawn
Those of you who still enjoy watching "Project Runway" know that the drama surrounding twins Claire and Shawn Buitendorf has been a pivotal story arc in Season 16. Claire and Shawn are indistinguishable but for Shawn's shaved head and Claire's Barbie dos. They both wear shades of too-bright lipstick and matching nose rings. Their annoying speech patterns are interchangeable.

It's okay to help each other... to a point

One didn't seem to be able to work without the other's help, and they faced suspicions of copying long before Claire admitted she had a tape measure in her hotel room and was measuring clothes she owned. Claire forfeited her challenge win (plus a $25,000 prize) and was banished from the competition. Shawn had left the previous week before completing a sister-to-sister sew-off. Although it was the tape measure that did Claire in, the other contestants were disdainful of their copying. The judges were more dismissive. "You all are influenced by each other", said Heidi Klum.

We know there is nothing original under the sun, or the moon for that matter. It's how those influences go through your brain patterns and come out in the creation that counts. Their "references" were just a little too twin-like.

Lanvin 1939 and 2017

The New York Times Style Magazine ran a piece in its September 24 issue that fits nicely into this.  "The New Old Look" is about the "heritage brands" of French couture (Balenciaga, Dior, Paco Rabanne, Chanel, Lanvin, etc.), how they preserve their histories and how the designers working under those labels interpret and/or reinvent them. It's a very interesting read with evocative photographs by Annabel Elston that I have mashed together for space in this blog (forgive me, Annabel).

Balenciaga 1964 and 2017

There are many fine stitches between honoring, copying and throwing the baby out with the bath water. Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel has perhaps achieved the most success. We still love Chanel bags and tweedy "Chanel" jackets, but he's been at it the longest (since 1982). It's a challenge the new designers for heritage brands acknowledge and seem to treat respectfully.

Paco Rabanne 1967 and 2017
Dior 1947 and 2017


  1. Enjoyed your post .. don't think I have missed more than four or five episodes since Project Runway launched!

    1. Me too, but I seem to remember only the designers from the first few.

  2. I'm happy to have the drama of the twins over and done with - it does feel like the producers really played this up, though. I hope Kentaro wins - he seems really sweet and his vision is really clear.

    I love seeing these comparisons of the older houses with their more recent creations - THAT's how you do an homage!

    1. Agree, Sheila, and thought the timing of that piece was pretty fortuitous.