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Isabel Marant Accused of Copying Traditional Mexican Design

Photo: Net A Porter

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A community of indigenous Mexican women in Oaxaca is asking designer Isabel Marant to remove a dress from her Étoile collection because it looks very similar to their traditional costume. Marant's cotton-linen dress retails for $182 currently and features embroidery like the traditional Tlahuitoltepec blouse, which is sold for 300 pesos or about $20. The community accuses Marant of plagiarism and asks for reparations from the designer, the Guardian reports.

"Isabel Marant is committing a plagiarism because the Etoile spring-summer 2015 collection contains the graphical elements specific to the Tlahuitoltepec blouse, a design which has transcended borders, and is not a novel creation as is affirmed by the designer," the group said in a press conference last week. The women from Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec are inviting Marant to come visit the artisans who make these garments.

The story took a strange turn when the Guardian contacted Marant's office to ask about the dress. Another designer, Antik Batik, is claiming to own the copyright on that design, Marant's office told the Guardian. So Marant is arguing that she did indeed get the design from the women of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec.

Isabel Marant's office told the Guardian: "Before the district court of Paris, Isabel Marant is fighting to set the record straight: she has presented submissions which expressly point out that these designs come from the village of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec in the province of Oaxaca, in Mexico … Moreover, Ms Isabel Marant, after tracing the true origin of these clothes, officially informed the court: ‘For her part, Ms Isabel Marrant does not claim to be the author of this tunic and these designs’."

The designer was also singled out earlier this year for a pair of Marant sneakers that looked strikingly similar to a classic style from Adidas.