One of the most recurrent question students ask me is how can you take inspiration from a previous garment or accessory without blatantly copying it or ending up infringing copyright. The simple answer to this rather difficult question is to radically reinvent something, studying the original details and silhouettes, and the construction techniques and materials the original designer employed to make a specific garment, and then coming up with your own design.
A good case study is this Yohji Yamamoto coat from the A/W 2004-05 collection that you will find in the fashion section of the V&A Museum in London. This black wool gabardine coat is long and straight and features two huge front pockets.
This design could be a descendant of the Christian Dior coat you see on this Annabella cover from 1949. Dior came up in this case with a black wool dress coat characterised by a few elements – the cuffs, shoulder details and four large utility pockets – derived from military uniforms.
Though the two designs show some connections, they look different and, even if this Dior coat were the starting point for Yamamoto (we don't know for sure, but we're making connections here), surely you couldn't blame him of any copyright infringement.
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