Have they copied?
The notorious Instagram account @diet_prada has returned to fill the role of fashions watchdog, calling out Balenciaga for allegedly copying a Berlin art student’s work.
The student, called Tra My Nyugen, studied at Berlin University of the Arts where a “recruiter” from Balenciaga saw her work which explored Vietnam’s female motorbike culture, inspired by her own family and culture. She was then emailed by a representative from Balenciaga asking for her to send over her portfolio, a photo posted on Balenciaga’s Instagram account then emerged which draped clothing over a motorbike in the same style that Nyugen had.
See the post below for more information and decipher if this is a case of plagiarism.
View this post on Instagram
@balenciaga is known to turn out some of the most innovative runway presentations of the last few years and their sculptural silhouettes honor the house’s legacy while expanding upon it. Unfortunately, a lot of this mastery seems lost in translation between departments. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In June 2019, artist Tra My Nguyen ( @tra.my1 ) , then a student at Berlin University of the Arts, explored Vietnam’s female motorbike culture for her master’s project. Drawing inspiration from her own family history wherein her mother sold her bike in order to immigrate to Germany, she collaged and wrapped clothing over motorbikes to create “wearable sculptures.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The next month, a “recruiter” from Balenciaga attended a master’s presentation and requested Nguyen’s portfolio. Already in hand, she followed up again in October with a request for photos of her current collection. The Balenciaga creative development strategist, whose position was verified through LinkedIn, told Nguyen they were looking for interns. After sending her portfolio with multiple process images, she never received a reply. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Now, Balenciaga’s Instagram feed shows a near identical image to Nguyen’s sculpture, but wrapped in Balenciaga clothing. Even the backdrop and angle of the photograph is uncannily similar, though the caption made no mention of the inspiration or credit to Nguyen. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ As the creative director of Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia knows full well the power a luxury brand has to elevate the work of independent creatives. For his inaugural Balenciaga SS17 menswear collection, he tapped British menswear designer Martine Rose to consult. Rose, then a relative outsider who founded her label a decade prior, was encouraged by Gvasalia to publicize their partnership, which elevated her profile and was pivotal in growing her namesake business. But too often, brands choose the easier route of copying, while unwittingly leaving a trail of receipts. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In Nguyen’s Instagram post, she implored Balenciaga about their post. “What is your inspiration? Why are you even draping garments over a motorbike? What do you want to tell us with this pic!,” she said. “I am not your moodboard!”