But sometimes designers can be inspired indirectly, and even unintentionally. Bradley notes that many stylists work with multiple designers. To wit, Lang’s longtime consultant Melanie Ward had a hand in several Calvin Klein shows, which could explain some of the commonalities. Designers also house-hop, as is the case with Paulo Melim Andersson, now in his second season at Chloé, where more than a few Marni-isms—vestiges of his last employer—found their way into his first collection. Several reviewers noted a certain Tom Ford influence on the Burberry Prorsum runways of late; prior to his current gig, Bailey spent six years working for the designer.
Not that Ford, often accused of seeing the world through Halston-colored glasses, would likely be up in arms about it. At a University of Southern California fashion conference in 2005, he remarked, “Nothing made me happier than to see something that I had done copied.… Appropriation has always been a trend.”
And at the end of the day, while fashion may debate the parameters of intellectual property, for most fashion-loving women, the derivative-or-not brouhaha is a nonissue. “The customer doesn’t care what something’s inspired by,” says Jacobs. “What matters is if they like it and feel good in it.”