Louis Vuitton on Artist's Darfur Project: Bag It

And there's a long history of artists using high-fashion logos. In 1985, Andy Warhol turned Chanel into an icon with his pop art take on the Chanel No. 5 perfume bottle.

Nine years later, contemporary artist Tom Sachs created a Christmas scene for the windows at Barneys New York called "Hello Kitty Nativity," replacing the Virgin Mary with a Hello Kitty figurine dressed in Chanel and Nike. In 1998, he made the Chanel Guillotine (Breakfast Nook) -- a table for two set perpendicular to a guillotine covered in the French designer's logo.

Considering how Plesner's T-shirt fits into this tradition, Harris calls Louis Vuitton's lawsuit a cheap shot at an artist trying to do good.

"Especially at a time when France has done so much to shed light on what's going on in Darfur, it's sad that Louis Vuitton would take this position," he said.

"We're going to meet with them at the end of the month in Paris to discuss this," he continued. "It's really our hope that they use this as an opportunity to take a position on Darfur. When you look at all the good work that Gucci did raising money for Malawi, this could be Louis Vuitton's chance to step up to the plate."

Martin Garbus, a copyright and intellectual property lawyer based in New York, said the handbag heavyweight should back off.

"It's an ill-founded, badly thought out lawsuit. I can see no reason why they'd go after this woman," he said. "There's fair use in copyright -- fair use means you can use something that's copyrighted to make a statement. It's like a parody of a Louis Vuitton bag, and parody is protected under copyright law."

Plesner's hoping she can come to a resolution with Louis Vuitton when they meet later this month. But in the meantime, she's relishing the attention the lawsuit has brought to her T-shits, which sell for $53 each and whose proceeds go to Darfur charities.

Plesner won't disclose how many T-shirts she's sold for fear of giving the French label's lawyers more ammo, but her school is letting her take time off from classes and has equipped her with a team of interns to keep up production. Clearly, business can't be too bad.

"This was meant to raise a discussion on how we all prioritize. At this point, I'm so happy that the lawsuit has caused so much attention and that the campaign is going really well," she said. "We're hoping that they will turn around and maybe we can do something together, figure out a way that will benefit both Darfur and them."

Wednesday, Louis Vuitton's Weld asserted the label is not trying to stop Plesner's Darfur campaign.

"We applaud her efforts to raise awareness and funds for Darfur, as we wrote to her in our original letter," she said. "Our contention lies in the representation of the design of one of our bags and the close reference to one of our best known textile designs."

Asked why Louis Vuitton can't leave Plesener's work alone considering it can be seen as a parody, Weld said, "That is not Louis Vuitton's position."

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