09/02/15 UPDATE Discount Universe designers have responded to stylist Simone Harouche’s statement on Instagram, and say she is victim-blaming:
“We aren’t ready to release an official statement but felt that this kind of thinking is way too dangerous to leave unaddressed. Prior to posting ANYTHING on social media we were inundated with interview requests and tags CONGRATULATING US for designing the finale looks of the VMA awards. To actually suggest that we ASKED for it is atrocious. No one ASKS to get hurt. WELL DONE@simoneharouche #VICTIMBLAMING at its finest. Instead of teaching people to stand up for themselves, let’s teach them to shut the fuck up, or they’ll get knocked the fuck down. #whatdoesthisremindyouof”
09/01/15 UPDATE: VFiles founder Julie Anne Quay through Twitter has commented on the accusation that the design aesthetic of Miley Cyrus’s finale costumes too closely resembled that of Discount Universe’s. Without mentioning either the designer, BCalla, or Cyrus’s stylist, Quay wrote, “Taking another person’s work, recreating it and saying it’s yours is not right. So today we stand alongside our close friends and VFILES Family members Camia [James] and Nadia [Napreychikov] (Discount Universe) as they take action to protect the creative integrity of their work.”
VFiles selected Discount Universe to appear in its Made Fashion Runway early this year during New York Fashion Week‘s February presentations.
The fact that the retailer was willing to take a stand on an issue related to design encroachment is highly unusual (so uncommon we can’t recall it ever happening in the past!) but it speaks to the unusual relationship VFiles has with the brands it works with, and perhaps, too, a certain level of weariness with the common practice of poaching design ideas from less powerful, indie brands, which are largely who VFiles works with.
09/01/15 UDPATE: Cyrus’s stylist, Simone Harouche has made a statement to Yahoo Style on the controversy: Harouche explained, “[The looks] were inspired by Salvador Dali’s surrealist costumes, Kansai Yamamoto’s use of faces and designs from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and, most importantly, Cyrus’ own love of funny faces, mouths, and especially tongues. The results of their design collaboration didn’t just appear on the host, but the 31 backup dancers too, all famous drag queens from former seasons of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Cyrus’ favorite TV show.
“It’s very sad that people need to use Miley’s amazing performance as an opportunity to create press for themselves, when they had nothing to do with the creative process,’ Harrouche tells Yahoo Style. ‘It’s unfortunate that they’re taking away from this young designer’s opportunity to make something special for Miley.'”
Read the original story below.
MTV’s VMA event last night had plenty of moments, including Miley Cyrus‘s various stage outfits that were a modern day version of ’90s club kid, a look that has become the pop star’s trademark. The hubbub over her looks kicked into high gear this morning when it became apparent that her finale performance costume plus those of her 31 back up dancers (above), were designed not by Australian label Discount Universe as many assumed but by BCalla designer Brad Callahan, who was tapped by Cyrus’s stylist, Simone Harouche, to take on the job.
While the concept of pop-art-colored sequin clothing was not started by Discount Universe (The Blonds might have a thing or two to say about that topic), certain design features like the label’s giant sequin eye festooned with over-sized, triangle lashes have become the label’s trademark, a design element that was featured prominently in several of Cyrus’s finale costumes.
The copy is that much more surprising because Discount Universe has worked with Cyrus in the past and has included images of her wearing product on the label’s Instagram feed. And at the VMAs, one celebrity, Baddie Winkle, attended wearing, yes, you guessed it, a look featuring the label’s famous lashy eye front and center.
All of the night’s events weren’t lost on Discount Universe, which began its morning with an Instagram post, stating:
“We are obviously distraught and this couldn’t come at a worse time as we are on our official last day of making the new collection, so we are trying to rise above and stay focused. We’ve kept our mouths closed about a lot of things in the past, but one thing you can’t take and get away with is someone’s IDENTITY. We know it might be risky for us to comment on this, but if we didn’t, it would mean we stand for NOTHING. We will be discussing this soon.”
The Syndney Morning Herald also wrote about the event, with Patty Huntington, a source identified as a WWD contributor, trying to make sense of the look-a-like designs, “Emerging brands get ripped off all the time but it’s just a bit weird as Miley was Discount Universe’s biggest fan. Perhaps they’ve had a falling out and this guy was called upon to design something similar for less money with the promise of exposure.”
The thing is, Callahan is hardly new to the game of designing performer costumes. A quick visit to his website reveals that he’s worked with Lady Gaga and Azealia Banks. That said, though the brightly-colored club-kid look is in full effect, there isn’t anything on BCalla at the moment that could easily be mistaken for Discount Universe.
Above and beyond the complication of internationally trademarking a design element like a body part, in a way, this event and the controversy it’s generated does put a stake in the ground for Discount Universe’s unofficial ownership of its lash-endowed sequin eye.
It’s not a great look for Callahan at all, but both he and Harouche on their respective Instagrams at the moment are staying mum. Meanwhile in the comments they are both being dragged for filth by Discount Universe loyalists. Still, it’s always good to pause on judgement until all sides of the story have been told and hopefully their takes will soon be forthcoming (and we will update when/if they do).
Of course let’s not forget Cyrus who can’t be viewed as an innocent in all this. It’s not a good look for her either, layering as it does upon her reputation for helicoptering in and picking off bits and pieces of cultures to help prop up her cool factor. She and her team could have pulled this off five, ten years ago, but it’s a new age and the watchful [sequined] eye of the internet sees and calls out all.