Lest fashion ever be mistaken for merely a series of beautiful and covetable items of clothing, there are always a few avant-garde designers who provoke the question, "What was (s)he thinking?" (Yes, my dear skeptical fellow academics, thinking.)
This season Yohji Yamamoto's first look, a long coat, rolling suitcase, headwrap, and even boots splashed with a logo that was suspiciously but not completely familiar, was clearly a text to be deconstructed. But what was the message? A not-so-subtle dig at corporate power? A comment on consumerism? A nod to the ubiquity of the Louis Vuitton brand, even to the furthest traveled points on the globe? And isn't the form of reference itself a bit recursive? Only the toile will tell.
Setting questions of deeper meaning aside for the moment, can he do that? That is to say, will Yohji's next design experiment involve classic prison stripes or orange jumpsuits?
If Yamamoto were an unknown copyist instead of an internationally renowned designer producing an expensive collection, or if he had left his own "YY" initials out of the pattern, he might very well find police instead of buyers waiting back in the showroom. The pattern, which he used in multiple looks, is so similar to the LV Monogram toile that absolutely noone in his audience could miss the reference -- but then, his own YY's are iconic in their own right. Moreover, the publicity generated by this collection may serve to diffuse any likelihood of confusion, at least among the fashion-conscious consumers most likely to buy either label.
Still, unless you are a darling of the fashion intelligensia, don't try this at home. And even if you are, make sure you keep your attorney on speed dial.