Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Red Alert

I am currently listening to the entire Desert Island Discs archive, I love it. I try and listen to at least one episode a day and on Sunday, I listened to the wonderful Kristin Scott-Thomas.  An actress who shot to fame playing cold, repressed English women (Fiona in Four Weddings, Katherine in The English of my favourite films of all time) she came across as incredibly warm and self deprecating with some great music  choices.  What surprised me was her luxury. Foe my readers who don't know the format, you choose eight 'discs' (pieces of music), you are given the Bible (or religious text of your choice) and the complete works of Shakespeare, you choose one book and one luxury. Kristin's luxury was a pair of Christian Louboutin mules.  
SJP's feet in the Pigalle pump by Louboutin

Recently Mr Louboutin is a bit hot under the collar.  He has sued Yves Saint Laurent for trademark infringement last month in a legal tussle over a pair of shoes and it was clear the accused, one of the grandest labels in France, would not take the slur lying down.  Now YSL is fighting back in a dispute which started with a collection of pumps. The best-selling styles, including the Tribute, the Palais and the Woodstock, came with coloured soles which perfectly matched their leather uppers. It was the red shoes Louboutin and his legal advisers took exception to. Now, as I am not lucky enough to own a pair of either, it made me wonder...if the Gods of Fashion were reading this and I could request just one pair...what or by which designer would it be?
Is this what one of the Gods of Fashion might look like?
 Louboutin's designs have been spotted on the feet of celebrities for many years. The designer is among the most prolific on the international catwalks and, in his case, the prized instant recognition which is fashion's life blood comes with his poppy-red lacquered soles.  Louboutin claims to have introduced his trademark in the early Nineties while studying a prototype. "There was this big, black sole," he told The New Yorker recently, "and then, thank God, there was this girl painting her nails." He swiftly used the enamel in question to cover the shoe and one of fashion's status symbols was born. 

Alexa in the YSL Palais

Or so he thought. YSL argues that Louboutin has no monopoly on the colour – on the soles of his shoes or indeed elsewhere – and that its shoes have sported red soles since the Seventies. "Red outsoles are a commonly used ornamental design feature in footwear, dating as far back as the red shoes worn by King Louis XIV in the 1600s and the ruby-red shoes that carried Dorothy home in The Wizard of Oz," said court papers filed by Yves Saint Laurent and released this week.
"As an industry leader who has devoted his entire professional life to women's footwear, Mr Louboutin either knew or should have known about some or all of the dozens of footwear models that rendered his sworn statement false."
Elvis blue suede shoe envy? Buy these from YSL

 Louboutin, 47, is seeking damages of $1m (£620,000) from YSL which, he argues, has copied his signature sole on "virtually identical" shoes. According to court documents, Louboutin, which sells more than 500,000 pairs of shoes in more than 40 countries, was awarded a registered trademark for its red sole by the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2008.
"The shiny red colour has no function other than to identify to the public that they are mine," the designer told a court in his application. With this in mind, Louboutin has, in the past, obtained injunctions against several companies attempting to replicate it, including, last February, Kimera International, which was found to have "engaged in acts of trademark counterfeiting and trademark dilution." Taking on a name with the clout of Yves Saint Laurent, today owned by PPR (Pinault-Printemps-Redoute), among the largest luxury goods conglomerates in the world, is another matter. 
The YSL Tribute Platform T-strap sandal...a favourite of Olivia Palermo
 Charles Colman, a New York-based intellectual property rights lawyer told trade paper Women's Wear Daily that any litigation was likely to prove a long, drawn-out affair. "When you're dealing with two large parties, both of which have large and skilled law firms working for them, you don't have that leverage differential that you may have in other situations," he said, going on to point out that it was also less likely that inflated legal fees would run either party into the ground.

So..the fight will go on. Do you have any thoughts about this and if you had to pick a side, who would it be?

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