Friday, November 6, 2009

Seamstress takes on might of Chanel over crochet pattern; Guardian, 11/6/09

Lizzy Davies, Guardian; Seamstress takes on might of Chanel over crochet pattern:

"A 61-year-old woman from a small town in eastern France is taking on the might of one of world's greatest fashion houses in a case that threatens to shake up the way the industry treats its skilled workers.

Carmen Colle, a former social worker who founded an ethical clothing company to provide employment for refugees, is waging a legal battle against Chanel over a crochet pattern which she claims was copied by designers at Rue Cambon.

Arguing that the sample was created by her own tailors and not by her former client, she is pushing for €2.5m (£2.2m) of damages for alleged counterfeit and breach of contract. Chanel insists the design was its own.

The case, which has taken four and a half years to come to court, is being watched closely by observers of the high fashion industry, who believe it could empower the petits mains who work as tailors and seamstresses for powerful brands in France.

Although businesses such as Colle's World Tricot, which supply handmade haute couture to some of fashion's leading names, often suggest ideas for designs, they rarely – if ever – ask for copyright, preferring to be given a large order from the client.

If Colle, who claims Chanel used her pattern without placing an order, wins her fight, she believes it could have widespread repercussions."

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