Marimekko ® "Unikko" (Poppy)
I have something very unpleasant to report. Undoubtedly it will land me in hot water with both Dolce & Gabbana and with Bergdorf's, but I can't be quiet. I feel my job as a journalist* is to report, so that's what I'm doing, consequences be damned.
I was at Bergdorf Goodman the other day, and I did a double-take when I saw these:
$385 D&G Dolce & Gabbana
$595 D&G Dolce & Gabbana
At first, I thought, "Wow, D & G have used a Marimekko fabric for one of their designs, how cool!" When I went closer, I saw that it wasn't Marimekko fabric at all — if you look, the poppy petals are perforated in the Marimekko design and the flowers have stems, the D & G fabric has neither. I was so shocked I didn't know what to think!
Let me give you some background: Marimekko is a highly-respected textile and home décor company from Finland, with over 50 years of history. Although the average American might not be familiar with the company and its very distinctive designs, it is well-known and regarded in both the clothing and the design fields. First lady Jackie Kennedy bought eight Marimekko dresses in 1960 and put the brand instantly on the map when she wore a Marimekko dress on the cover of Sports Illustrated in December 1960 with President Kennedy. Today Marimekko has concept stores in Boston, New York, Miami, and the Washington D.C. area; Marimekko is also sold through Crate & Barrel, Anthropologie, as well as boutiques and specialty stores.
The "Unikko" (Poppy) design and family of fabrics, clothing, and other products, was first introduced in 1964 — 43 years ago. Some of you may remember it from the wall panels of last year's "HGTV Design Star", and if I'm not mistaken, "Top Chef" as well. The pattern is distinctive and recognizable.
This isn't the first time it's been knocked off (I saw a knock-off fabric in a discount fabric store a few years ago), but who would have thought that an industry leader such as Dolce and Gabbana would stoop to what in my mind adds up to nothing less than piracy. What bad form! For shame!
I contacted Marimekko yesterday, sending along the link to the item, asking if perhaps this was a new version of "Unikko" that Dolce & Gabbana had licensed. That sort of thing happens all the time — one design company licensing their fabric to be used by another. I thought it may have been possible; after all, I was just about to write about the upcoming Marimekko collaboration with H & M, which will bring Marimekko to the common consumer (news over which I was part delighted, part disappointed). Furthermore, Marimekko is partnering with Manolo Blahnik for Summer 2008 — the "Unikko" pattern will grace Manolos all next summer. (See them at thecoolhunter.net)
Marimekko confirmed to me today by email that the fabric used was not an authentic Marimekko fabric or design pattern.
What next? I don't know. I hope they sue. What I do know is that D & G Dolce and Gabbana just went on my black list. It is bad enough when high street stores and bargain outfits start knocking off high design, for a respected industry brand to rip off another is unconscionable.
Feel free to copy, post, and distribute this post to your hearts' content. I'm thinking of forwarding it to both Bergdorf's and D & G Dolce & Gabbana.** I'm so revolted I'm spitting nails.
For Marimekko at H & M, see The Wall Street Journal, 20 Nov 2007.
For more information about Marimekko, see Marimekko website.
* We'll save the discussion of whether bloggers are "allowed" to call themselves "journalists" for another time.
** I have sent a request for comment to D & G.
[[Update, 21 Dec 2007 14:45 EST:
My email to Dolce & Gabbana, sent through their website "Contact" page came back as undelivered.
What's more interesting is that Dolce & Gabbana themselves are enacting measures to stop people from copying THEIR designs.
"Starting out from the 1997-1998 Autumn/Winter season Dolce & Gabbana S.p.A. decided to introduce an anti-imitation system made up of both visible and invisible elements. The aim of this system is to protect the articles of some of the lines which are to a greater degree the object of numerous attempts at imitations on the part of counterfeiters and, on the part of Dolce & Gabbana S.p.A., to safeguard its clientele."
Quite hypocritical, n'est-ce pas?
Their offices in New York, when I tried to call just now, were understandably closed for the Holidays. I will attempt to reach someone for comment in January 1. ]]
[[Update, 22 Dec 2007 9:55 EST:
Well, it appears that I wasn't the first to bring this to Marimekko's attention. Just-Style.com reported on 27 Nov 2007 on this and Marimekko is looking into it. And here I was expecting to be notified by the Pulitzer prize people any minute that I was on the shortlist :P Well, I think I'll leave this to the big boys to duke out on their own. Still disgusted with D & G.]]
Photo sources: 1. Marimekko website. 2. D & G at Bergdorf Goodman. Images used for illustrative purposes only. No copyright infringement intended. If you object to the use of your image, please email and I will remove immediately.