The first thought of fashion watchers learning that Google has announced a new range of Google Glass frames created in partnership with fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg's studio, DVF, may be that Google is aiming for older money. After all, the DVF brand conjures images of wealth, excess, and animal prints.
However, those who follow fashion history and politics may also chuckle at the DVF choice: Have the "geeks" at Google made a social blunder by giving an inadvertent blessing to design piracy?
DVF is an ironic choice of designers since Ms. von Furstenberg is widely accused of having made one of the most blatant design piracies in fashion history – the Claire McCardell wrap dress of 1942 which, according to PBS, von Furstenberg presented as her own original design in the 1970s.
PBS has called von Furstenberg a “deeply ironic example” of fashion hypocrisy. She is president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the main organization fighting for legislation to protect people's designs, and the woman known throughout the fashion world for a “stolen” design that made her career.
“There’s no doubt that von Furstenberg is familiar with McCardell, but that has not stopped her from laying claim to a design that was not only popular in the 1940s, but was trendy in ancient Greece,” PBS reported. “Nor has it stopped her from championing legislation that she could never use to claim ownership of the design that has defined her career.”
Unlike tech companies, which can rise and fall on copyright claims, fashion designers have historically been denied copyright protection because the courts decided long ago that utilitarian articles should not be protected by copyright.
The fashion industry has attempted to change these laws for years, introducing and reintroducing bills such as the Innovative Design Protection Act (a.k.a. the “Fashion Bill”), which died in committee in 2012.
Therefore, seeing an innovative behemoth shake hands with DVF in one of the most litigious industries on the planet in order to make a fashion statement might raise as many eyebrows as the proposed price of Google Glass.
The DVF-designed frames with Glass and prescriptive lenses will cost $1,725, while von Furstenberg's sunglasses plus Glass will cost $1,620. The upcoming line up has five new frames and eight shades in two styles. The designs will go on sale June 23, and will be available from online fashion retailer Net-a-Porter and Google itself, according to The Verge.