August 23, 2012

An Inspired Knock Off

Perry Ellis 1985
My orange high school locker was my inspiration board. It was 1985 and the orange background only enhanced the already kaleidoscopic menagerie of 80s fashion, Calvin Klein underwear ads and my bobbed hair crush Marcus Abel. Fast forward twenty years to a Black Crowes after party and I'm debating the difference between knocking off and being inspired by fashion with one of the designers whose ads I'd always had hanging in my locker (no, not CK).

Three months earlier the assistant of the aforementioned designer purchased my collection of vintage leather jackets at a New York event I was showing at. I wouldn't have known otherwise but being a nosy Canadian I asked her if she was really going to wear all those jackets. She replied that they weren't for her, they were for Designer X who would be knocking them off. Trust me, I know what you're thinking.

I do not regularly attend parties to accuse designers of knocking off vintage clothing. You see, as a result of early 90s, extremely loud, industrial dance sessions at Luv Affair, I have a terrible case of tinnitus. Therefore, when the designer introduced themselves at the noisy party I thought they said they worked for Designer X, not that they were, in fact, Designer X. Here I was thinking I was having a nice conversation with one of Designer X's assistants about the New York vintage show and how designers knock off vintage clothing. I didn't clue in that I was actually talking with Designer X until a groupie approached them. It would have been even more embarrassing to back track on my words and apologize for accusing them of knocking stuff off as the conversation had already evolved past that and they were real enough not to deny that they do in fact buy vintage clothing to get 'inspiration'. Needless to say,  I continued chatting along in my merry way pretending I knew who they were from the get go and of course not really hearing what I was saying because all I could think about was how friggin' embarrassed I was.

In 1985 I won the Langley School District fashion design competition. I don't remember how I actually got into the competition but I do remember being instructed to design something for Home Economics Sewing class and it was my creation - a skirt - that won. The designers had to walk the internationally famous and notoriously challenging catwalk at Langley Senior Secondary (or was it Brookswood) sporting their creation. I do remember doing that. I also remember not paying attention when the winners were announced and having someone come and find me to let me know I was being summoned. I won a Mary Kay make over!

Last night I pulled out the January 1985 edition of Vogue looking for some blog inspiration. The first page I opened to slapped me with a fistful of memories. It was a Perry Ellis ad - an ad containing the winning skirt. I now remember. I took that ad to a local sewing shop, searched out a pattern for a similar skirt and had it altered a bit.

I didn't knock it off, I was inspired by it.

The striped skirt and winning ensemble. Note the nautical theme topped off by the hat.



PS Kids - if you're going to dance beside the speakers take this old hipsters advice and be the geek that wears ear plugs. Your parents were somewhat right, you will go deaf but first you will be plagued by a torturing constant ringing in your ears - even when you have ear plugs in.

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