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September 30, 2008

Getting in the Habit

Milan Fashion Week is over, but in Rome a controversy over hemlines is still smoldering.  It seems that the city of imperial decadence and "la dolce vita" is suddenly feeling a bit overexposed. 

According to a new decree from the mayor, it is forbidden, among other things, "...to wear clothing that unequivocally manifests the intention to solicit or engage in the activity of prostitution."  As at least one police official has noted, the law is unclear as to just how short a skirt might have to be in order to constitute a violation, leading to potential misunderstandings.  Just last August, for example, two foreign students visiting a church were stopped on suspicion of engaging in prostitution.  (Perhaps I should think about hiding my own photo album from studying in Rome years ago, for that matter -- though as I recall the rules about having our knees and shoulders covered when visiting churches were strictly enforced.)

Meanwhile, with 200-euro fines at stake, an advocate for sex workers has suggested that prostitutes walk the streets in black-and-white nuns' habits instead, leaving the police to arrest scantily clad girls in front of nightclubs or to fine women showing too much cleavage.  Of course, that might also make life a bit more interesting for all of the real nuns strolling around the eternal city.

September 29, 2008

Fashion Law

 "How can I get into fashion law?"

Several times each week -- more during interview season -- a Counterfeit Chic reader asks me this question.  I've heard from aspiring law students, current law students, recent graduates, law firm associates disillusioned with their current jobs, law partners interested in a new group of clients, and former lawyers who've spent quite enough time at home changing diapers, thank you very much.  I've received messages from parents seeking advice for their children, colleagues seeking advice for their students, and innamorati seeking advice for the objects of their affection.  Your emails have come from every continent except Antarctica -- and any day now I expect to hear from a lonely scientist with a great new anorak design and an interest in becoming a patent lawyer. 

Just a few years ago, the most accurate answer would have been, "You can't."  After all, "fashion law" is only now starting to be recognized as a distinct field.  Of course, as long as there have been fashion houses, they've had a need for legal services.  But bar associations don't have fashion law sections, law firms are just starting to create groups specializing in fashion or luxury, and it's not on the bar exam -- yet.  Even now that I've finally established a course in Fashion Law, the first at a U.S. law school and hopefully part of a trend of its own, the second most common question I hear is, "Fashion law?  Really?"

Yes, really.  

But back to the original inquiry.  I'd love to have time to email each of you personally or accept all of your invitations to lunch or coffee, but instead I've compiled a few tips. 

  • Excel at law.  Of all the attorneys whom I've asked about their paths to fashion-related positions, only a couple started out with that goal in mind.  Many don't even consider themselves fans of fashion.  And those who do will not hire you for your eagerness to chat about the latest season or trend.  They may, however, hire you for your excellent grades, achievements, and references.  While a degree of enthusiasm for a prospective job is fine, it's far easier to hire a star legal eaglet who can learn to apply her skills to the needs of a fashion client than it is to hire a ditzy fashionista and teach her how to read a case.  As a colleague of mine says, "You can't teach smart."  And yes, dear follower of fashion, you're up against stereotype.
  • Think laterally.  As with other "cool" areas of law, you can't expect fashion law jobs to come to you.  Law firms typically don't visit campus in search of fashion lawyers.  And, like other companies looking for in-house counsel, fashion houses rarely hire directly out of school, at least in the U.S.  Consider instead joining a firm with fashion clients and requesting work on their issues as it arises.  If you're connected within the fashion industry, let acquaintances know you're out there and engage in the fine art of rainmaking.  Don't disdain pro bono opportunities.  And, if the opportunity arises, marry into a fashion family.  (Hey, it worked for Patrizio Bertelli.) 
  • Do your homework.  After reading the last tip, a number of you are poised to email me requesting a list of firms in your area.  Don't.  I do not keep a written list, which would have to be updated regularly and which would inevitably run the risk of omitting and thus offending some fine folks out there. 
It's up to you to target your search.  Start by reading news stories, looking at case documents, and trolling websites for information on who's growing a legal practice in the fashion field.  It's still extremely diffuse at this point -- lots of attorneys have had a fashion client or two -- but there are already significant nodes of experience in many cities.  New York is, of course, the center of the American fashion industry, but don't overlook L.A., San Francisco, Chicago, your own hometown, or the myriad of international opportunities. 
  • Learn the ropes. If you're going to work in fashion law, you need to know as much about the industry and its legal issues as possible, and you need to stay current.  Reading Counterfeit Chic is a good start, of course.  In the U.S., you should also subscribe to and study the daily gospel, WWD, along with other newspapers and periodicals that cover the business side of fashion.  I've personally given quite a few CLE lectures on specific issues related to law and fashion, and there are other opportunities out there. 
A caveat:  Continuing education is a business, and one virtually free of quality controls.  Beware of the flimsy credentialing opportunities that are sure to arise.  If the organization advertises on the side of a bus shelter, offers an unfamiliar "degree," or makes exaggerated promises of access to the industry, think twice.
And most important of all,
  • Make yourself uniquely valuable.  On a recent episode of the TV show Mad Men, a character summed up her career philosophy:  "This is America.  Pick a job, and then become the person that does it."  Whether or not you're reading this stateside, it's brilliant advice for an emerging field.  While I'm flattered by those of you who tell me, "I want to do what you do," think about the possibilities for forging a path of your own.  Intellectual property is my own favorite legal field as applied to the fashion industry, but you could also develop a specialty in M&A, securities law, mediation, employment law, international trade, tax, or any number of other areas that I have made part of the fashion law curriculum.  Some of the best student papers I've supervised have focused on the federal sentencing guidelines and on zoning and urban planning, respectively.  Learn, think, practice, write, speak -- and turn yourself into an expert in your own niche.

And now a few caveats, based on my observations and informal conversations with attorneys in the field.  If you really want to start a career in fashion law, avoid assuming any of the following roles:

  • The Park Avenue Princess.  Perhaps you recall the scene in the Sex and the City movie in which Carrie is interviewing potential assistants.  The first is a heavily accessorized, designer-clad blonde who notes that she doesn't lift boxes and then proclaims dramatically, "I would love a career in fashion."  I can't count the number of individuals who have told me that they hate the idea of law firm hours but that fashion law sounds like so much fun.  Translation:  I don't want to work very hard, and fashion seems like a soft option.  It's not. 

  • The Reluctant Lawyer.  If you don't particularly like law in the first place, why chase after a career in fashion law?  You most likely won't be a convincing candidate, and you won't necessarily enjoy the work if you do get a Prada pump in the door.  A new fashion label still requires a trademark search, an accessories licensing deal is still a contract, and those plans for a trendy new boutique still call for a commercial lease.  Note to well-meaning elders: Fashion law is not the ideal compromise between a parent who wants legally trained offspring and a child with design aspirations and runway dreams.  If (s)he doesn't become the next Marc Jacobs, law school will still be there.
  • The Fan Girl (or Boy).  There are cheaper and easier ways to get into a fashion show or meet a designer than to go to law school.  If you do persist and secure an interview, however, you should not ask questions like, "OMG!  Did you get to go to the fall show?  How cool is [insert designer, model, or editor's name here]?  Do you just love the new collection?  I die."  In other words, the more you sound like Rachel Zoe, the less you sound like a promising legal candidate.  If you don't know who Rachel Zoe is, you're on the right track. 
  • The Champion Shopper.  Remember Elle Woods in Legally Blonde?  Like the Fan Girl, the Champion Shopper defines him- or herself through a passion for fashion, but is more interested in wearing the clothes than in venerating the genius who created them.   Asking your interviewer whether the job comes with a house discount is a definite "don't."  And yes, it has happened.
  • The Counterfeit Chick.  By all means, dress professionally for your interview -- as in the legal profession, not that of a fashion editor or window dresser.  It's not necessary to wear something from the fashion house or a client of the firm with which you hope to be associated.  If you do so, however, make sure it's genuine.  Fakes have indeed been spotted on hubristic hopefuls -- who somehow never received return calls. 

Now it's up to you.  If you have additional tips that should be on the list, please let me know.  And good luck!

September 25, 2008

Sabine Dresses

Some people steal brides.  Others steal bridal gown designs. 

Counterfeit Chic has discussed this knockoff nuptial dilemma previously, along with the measures that bridal emporia employ to evade copyists.  But really, banning photography and sketching?  Not exactly a pirate-proof strategy in the era of camera phones and the internet.  Now WWD reports that, without either intellectual property law protection or effective means of keeping design details secret from copyists, wedding dress designers are attempting to warn brides about the drawbacks of purchasing a knockoff.  The Watters website, for example includes a "buyer beware" tab explaing the dangers of unauthorized dealers who may not deliver the goods. 

Veiled warning 

Like brides themselves, bridal designers are particularly sensitive to being imitated.  Trademarks and brand loyalty are likely to be even less effective in encouraging consumers to eschew copies than in the case of other garments, as wedding gowns are an infrequent purchase and specialty labels may be unfamiliar.  Even La Liz has only had 8 opportunities to wear one -- and the rest of us can hope for what, 4 or 5 in a lifetime?*  In addition, quality of construction may or may not be important to a bride, as most gowns are worn only once -- at least by their original purchaser.  Weddings, moreover, are an expensive proposition, and a budget-conscious bride may be tempted to hunt for a less-expensive version of her dream dress.  Add in vicious trade show competitors who surreptitiously offer bridal boutiques cheap knockoffs, potentially preventing brides-to-be from even seeing the originals, and the market substitution problem becomes even more serious.  Especially since even a popular original wedding dress design is likely to have a limited run, as no bride likes to see her dress walking down every aisle in town. 

I'm reminded of a particularly awkward experience as a wedding guest some years ago.  At the reception, a fellow guest admired the (quite ordinary) dress.  Instead of accepting the compliment, the rather unlovely bridezilla -- an identical twin whose sister was to be married a few months later --screeched into a tirade about how her sister had asked to borrow the dress and how ridiculous it would be to see such a similar repetition of her day.  Having neither a twin nor a sister, perhaps I can't fully understand the depth of feeling involved.  And since I was a guest not of the bride but of the groom, who was never to communicate with his female friends again, I don't know which sister ultimately prevailed.  But I do have a sense that bridal clones are no laughing matter.  For the bride or her designer.

Another veiled warning 

*Note to my esteemed colleague and spouse:  Just kidding.  Probably.

September 23, 2008

Fakes on Film

Please pass the popcorn -- fakes are appearing on and around film quite frequently of late. 

In an early scene from Diane English's remake of the 1939 gem The Women, Annette Bening's magazine editor character goes shopping.  At Saks, which presumably paid dearly for some heavy-handed brand placement throughout the movie.  With only 5 minutes devoted to the task, the character's sharply honed, encyclopedic fashion vision (or perhaps it's her oversized sunglasses) allows her to target and identify specific products as they cross her line of vision.  Designer, item, and price instantly appear on screen -- as does an alert regarding the Canal Street origin of a fellow shopper's fake. It's as if a military contractor had taken up Counterfeit Chic's favorite sport -- fakespotting -- and developed top-secret search-and-destroy technology.  Sadly, despite an all-star cast and a fierce fashion show sequence courtesy of Narciso Rodriguez, the film's plot doesn't stand the test of time particularly well. 

Although Lifetime engaged Shirley MacLaine to channel Coco Chanel in her later years, they apparently didn't spring for vintage couture.  The costume credits went instead to Stefano De Nardis and Pierre-Yves Gayraud.  Shirley probably wasn't too bothered, however, as she admitted to WWD last January that she'd worn knockoffs of the designer's fashions all through the 1950s and 60s.  Of perhaps greater concern was the meager use of Ms. MacLaine merely as a framing device for a rather sentimental biography of Mlle. Chanel as a young woman -- and the distracting shifts in accent between the senior and junior actresses.  Dressing Shirley MacLaine in Chanel copies and asking her to intone a few of Coco's most notable quotes does not make for great television. 

A faux fashion-related film that I have not seen, but that has received better early reviews, is Plastic City.  This Japanese, Brazilian, and French co-production by Chinese director Yu Lik-wai is set in an underworld where "the goods are fake, but the money is real," and it revolves around a counterfeit kingpin and his adopted son.  In other words, not exactly your basic chick flick.

http://www.investigativefilms.com/Gallery/tabid/54/Default.aspxAnd speaking of criminal connections, there are hard truths and real dangers behind all of these fictional fakes -- and filmmaker Richard Van Dam of Investigative Films is determined to reveal them.  He's hard at work on a documentary about counterfeits, and you can help by visiting his website and sharing your stories.  Richard's investigations have taken him around the world, including your favorite law prof's office (dangerous in its own way, perhaps!), and his tales of adulterated pharmaceuticals, deadly electronic devices, and child labor are quite shocking.  When this film opens, Counterfeit Chic will be first in line -- for a "hold the popcorn, pass the Scotch" kind of experience.

September 22, 2008

Bangle Bungle?

According to Carolyn Rafaelian, Juicy Couture is attempting to put the squeeze on her patented, adjustable bangle bracelet. 

The single mom sells her Alex & Ani line through Bendel's and Saks, and she's garnered more than the usual complement of celebrity fans and editorial props.  A couple of months ago, however, she noticed that Saks was also selling suspiciously similar Juicy Couture bangles online, as were Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Shopbop, and Bloomingdale's.  At Saks.com, a set of 12 Alex and Ani bangles starts at USD $138, while a single Juicy Couture bangle starts at $48.  Nice markup -- particularly if Rafaelian's allegations are true and Juicy Couture skipped the experimentation and design step. 

Alex and Ani set (left) and Juicy Couture (right) 

In legal terms, Rafaelian enjoys a number of options.  She holds two similar design patents on adjustable bangles, D498,167 and D486,709, both of which issued in 2004.  Should Juicy Couture challenge the patents, Rafaelian might also consider copyright, since jewelry -- unlike fashion designs -- is part of the subject matter of copyright under U.S. law.  There may even be another argument lurking in the wings, as Rafaelian hinted to the New York Post:

We told them that we are known for that bracelet - and there's definitely evidence of customer confusion. I've been getting a ton of phone calls and e-mails from customers, editors and buyers who are confused - it's just bad business.

Let's see:  secondary meaning generated by independent editorial coverage and celebrity wearers, plus evidence of consumer confusion.  A product configuration trade dress claim, perhaps?  (Interestingly, despite the significance that Rafaelian places on the adjustable fit mechanism of the bracelets, she doesn't seem to have pursued a utility patent.) 

D498,167 

Faced with a similar claim from Rafaelian, JCPenney pulled its knockoffs from shelves and apologized.  Thus far Juicy Couture has declined to make a similar adjustment. 

September 18, 2008

Battle of the Baggy Pants

The fashion police have finally gone too far.

While towns from New Jersey to Louisiana have recently passed ordinances against the wearing of trousers that sag below the waist, exposing excessive skin or underwear, a Florida judge has declared his local ordinance unconstitutional as applied.  The case involved a 17-year-old arrested and held overnight after police spotted him riding his bicycle with 4-5 inches of his boxer shorts visible above the waistband of his pants. 

The style, which originated among men in prison who are issued ill-fitting clothing and no belts, was popularized by rap artists and the fans who emulate them.  Meaning that the baggy pants laws are targeted at a young, urban, male population.  Just take a look at the mug shots below, which include 8 of the 11 pants perps from Riviera Beach, Florida.  (Two of the others are juveniles, and a third was featured in a previous Smoking Gun post.) 

Notice any similarities?

 

Of course, this isn't the first time that a sartorial battle has stood in for larger social tensions involving race and class.  The WWII-era zoot suit riots in Los Angeles involved clashes between sailors and local urban youths, primarily Mexican-Americans but also African-Americans and others, who wore suits with extremely long jackets and baggy pants pegged at the ankle -- an extravagant statement in a time of fabric scarcity and rationing. 

A Riviera Beach public defender has indicated her office's intent to challenge the current sartorial restrictions.  So stay tuned for whatever boxer briefs are forthcoming.  (You were waiting for that, right?)

September 11, 2008

Trying to Authenticate the Fake

New York Fashion Week appears to have triggered something of an existential creative crisis, best expressed in today's article by New York Times fashion critic Guy Trebay. 

After noting Malcolm McLaren's insistence that much of the classic punk clothing attributed to him and Vivienne Westwood and scheduled to be auctioned by Christie's next month is not genuine, Trebay observes that McLaren's point is really far broader:  "What is the point of cultural artifacts if they are not connected to any specific culture?"  The article goes on:

"Warhol's 15 minues have gone mad," Mr. McLaren said as scads of interchageable demi-celebrities marched by.  Everyone is trying to authenticate the fake.

Related post:  Alien Sedition? 

September 10, 2008

Turning Energy into Fashion: Emmett McCarthy, EMC2, and Equation

If conquering the catwalk and being copied are signs that you've arrived as a designer, then Emmett McCarthy is officially "in."

Not only did the Project Runway alum debut his Equation label handbags on the runway in Bryant Park Monday as part of QVC's first forray into New York Fashion Week, but a look from his boutique-exclusive EMC2 line appears to have been knocked off.  Check out the EMC2 satin ruffle coat from Emmett's 2007 holiday collection (left), and the fall 2008 Milly coat (right).  Even hidden details are similar: the EMC2 coat is lined in a black-and-white lace print, while the Milly version has a black-and-white print patch under the label. 

EMC2 (left, USD $875) and Milly (USD $675) 

Happily Emmett is one step ahead of the competition, having already heard a rumor that he'd been copied, and he's recreated the coat in this season's favorite royal purple instead.  Visit his Nolita boutique to try on an EMC2 original, or tune in to his first full hour on QVC this Friday at 4pm.  But don't be unfashionably late -- the popularly priced Equation handbags offered immediately after the runway show sold out at the speed of light. 

September 09, 2008

Watch Out!

Conned by a clever counterfeiter?  Don't feel bad -- so was the shop of a 5th-generation jeweler whose family has been in the business for 98 years. 

 

H.L. Gross & Brothers in Garden City, New York, paid USD $12,500 for a "Patek Philippe" supposedly worth $20,000 -- only to open it up and realize that while the watch had appeared genuine from the outside, the inside mechanism was that of an obvious Japanese fake.  Police apprehended the seller, Ian Kosloff, who was wanted for similar scams in Virginia and Florida. 

The counterfeiter's attitude when caught?  Caveat emptor.

It's a Lipstick Jungle Out There

Counterfeit Chic has no patience for those ostensibly high-minded folk who would declare analysis of style choice irrelevant to political debate in particular, or the professional and legal worlds in general. 

Yes, Hillary's pantsuits and Sarah's coiffure will receive more column inches than Barak's unconventional shirtsleeves or the other guy's ghastly convention makeup, but that doesn't make the discussion itself sexist or silly.  It's simply that men have been in power long enough to have a standard dress code from which few deviate -- Al Gore's unfortunate earth tones aside -- while women have not.  We're still making it up as we go along, and ideally having some fun at the same time.  It's dismissive to focus exclusively on anyone's fashion instead of his or her ideas, but not as one component of carefully chosen political packaging.  Are we really not supposed to acknowledge Michelle's transition from sharp business suits to retro Jackie Kennedy-style suits and sheaths to fuzzy pastels and floral prints -- all the while looking fabulous, but progressively less threatening?  And on a more quotidian basis, would we really bother with judges' robes, attorneys' pinstriped suits, and defendants' carefully scrubbed appearances if these choices didn't send messages?

That being said, the colorful comments of the current presidential campaign may have gone a shade too far.  Sarah Palin won rhetorical points with the best punchline of the Republican convention when, after asking the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull, she concluded, "Lipstick."  Memorable -- and even more so when you realized that she'd just called herself a b*tch with lipstick before anyone else had the chance.  Now Obama is making presumably unwanted headlines for comparing the McCain/Palin attempt to co-opt his "change" message to putting lipstick on a pig -- "it's still a pig."  An old figure of speech, to be sure, but suddenly an awkward one. 

Perhaps its time for the candidates to wipe the lipstick off their teeth, kiss, and make up -- before the makeup smears get ugly

 

September 08, 2008

Tattoo Removal

It seems that some forms of contemporary art are more equal than others, at least at the Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair. 

Some of you may remember Louise, artist Wim Delvoye's tattooed creation once dubbed "Professor Scafidi's pet pig" by a friend of Counterfeit Chic.  Apparently she has family...

 

...who will NOT be seen in Shanghai this week after organizers informed the artist that live animals are outside the categories of display.  According to the Shanghai Daily, the gallery representing Delvoye in Beijing believes that the real reason was concern over public reaction.

Whatever the true concern, it probably has little to do with the use of Louis Vuitton's logos.   

September 04, 2008

Synchronized Stealing? Artist Alleges Spain's Swimsuits Infringed Copyright

The Spanish synchronized swimming team certainly knows how to make a sartorial splash. 

First its suits festooned with waterproof Christmas lights were banned from the Olympics as illegal "props." 

Now, Counterfeit Chic has learned, German graffiti artist CANTWO has alleged that the replacement suits, which feature a menacing gangsta character with a backwards baseball hat, are unauthorized copies of his original artwork from 2001.  Not exactly what the artist had in mind, as his website invites visitors to "study my artwork and get inspired...but don't steal." 

front 

 back

 

As if Spain's Olympians needed more controversy.

Many thanks to Andy Eberle for the tip!

Ambiguous Advertising

 

Because Verizon wants Fios to be associated with fakes?  Because Disney's not quite princess Giselle dreams of not exactly legal handbags and can be watched on the small screen via a not yet installed fiber optic system?  Note to advertising agency:  What were you thinking?

Thanks to trexfiles23 for posting on Flickr!

September 02, 2008

Copies Even a Lawyer can Love

Copies come in many varieties:  counterfeits, knockoffs, knockups, and DIY fakes.  In anticipation of Fashion Week, the editors of Time Out New York decided to experiment with yet another variety, which we might call custom reproductions -- or perhaps resurrections. 

What's a girl to do when she's worn her favorite boots, T-shirt, or bag to shreds?  Before Mom throws the threadbare item out or your best friend stages an intervention and refuses to be seen with you in that thing one more time, TONY's editors suggest finding an expert who can recreate your beloved rag in all of its youthful glory.  Be warned, however:  it won't be inexpensive.  And it may or may not be legal.

 

Consider J.Crew boots, originally $200 and reproduced for $1,500.  Or a no-name bag bought on the street for less than $30 and copied for $1,200.  It's hard for me to imagine having a $5 T-shirt remade for $140 -- but then, can you put a price on love?

In most cases, moreover, you won't have to spring for legal fees.  So long as the tailor avoids stitching a signature swirl across the pocket of your repro jeans, and unless the style of your recreated bag is so iconic as to constitute protected trade dress, U.S. law will not prohibit the copies.   (A hint regarding trade dress:  If an elephant stomps on your Kelly bag while you're on safari, just have it repaired.  It may be cheaper than dealing with Hermes' lawyers.)  Among TONY's choices, only the graphic on the front of the T-shirt could cause legal problems -- and, since it's vintage 1970s, only if the image were properly registered. 

But should the law have anything to say about these reproductions?  While friends in jurisdictions that have fairly long terms of protection for fashion might disagree, Counterfeit Chic is (for once) satisfied with the American status quo.  After all, it takes years to wear out an item so thoroughly that it has to be replaced, by which time the original designer will presumably already have recovered his or her creative investment and moved on.  And a consumer who loved an item to death will almost certainly look for a new one from the original designer before paying many times more for a one-off custom reproduction that may or may not hit the mark.  Some designers may be concerned about harm to their reputations from poor copies -- but it's highly unlikely that the truly obsessed custom consumer would settle for anything less than the best. 

Just be sure to give the original a proper burial -- and don't even think about salvaging that label to add a bit of illegal authenticity to the reproduction.

September 01, 2008

Counterfeit Coffee Break 7

OreoCounterfeit Chic doesn't like Oreos.  I never have.  Back in nursery school, I was actually disciplined for NOT eating an Oreo cookie at snacktime -- a recollection that still both amuses and outrages my mother.

Before you go into hypoglycemic shock at my Oreo aversion, however, consider this:  Oreos may be knockoffs.  

In 1912, Nabisco (originally known as the National Biscuit Company), introduced a chocolate, cream-filled sandwich cookie, the Oreo.  But four years earlier, in 1908, Sunshine Biscuits had started baking a popular chocolate, cream-filled sandwich cookie:  Hydrox.  The truth of whether Nabisco copied Sunshine is lost in the crumbled ruins of the past, but it is indisputable that Oreo became the more commercially successful cookie.  The venerable Hydrox brand, now owned by Kellogg's, was eventually retired.   But in response to popular demand and in honor of Hydrox's centennial, Kellogg's has recently brought back a "limited edition" version of the cookie, billed as "America's first creme filled chocolate cookie." 

HydroxHow, you ask, do the two brands compare?

Visually, I can attest that the modern Hydrox is nearly identical to Oreo, but with a somewhat more intricate imprinted pattern.  Still, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. 

Lacking expertise in the finer points of Hydrox versus Oreo gustation, I enlisted my esteemed colleague and spouse, who grew up on a steady diet of both:  Oreos at home, Hydroxes at grandma's house next door.  According to his memories, confirmed by a taste test in which I most reluctantly participated, Hydrox cookies are crisper, less sweet, and hold up better to immersion in milk.  They also have a less artificial-tasting vanilla cream center and more chocolatey flavor (not difficult, as in my opinion Oreo's evident gastronomic relationship to chocolate is simply that both are brown).  In other words, it's Hydrox by a dunk.

I may never be a fan of marginally chocolate cookies that have a tendency to stick in my molars.  And with New York Fashion Week fast approaching, celery sticks are probably a better idea anyway.  If faced with an officious preschool teacher determined to force-feed me processed sugar, however, I'll reach for a Hydrox -- because even my 3-year-old self was naturally suspicious of baked fakes.