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Jean Paul Gaultier x Lotta Volkova nude
via Instagram (@lottavolkova)

The internet is now accusing Jean Paul Gaultier of copying... himself

How dare he 😠

The dregs of call out culture began to simmer over last night, as fashion pundits filled the comments section of Jean Paul Gaultier’s Instagram, lambasting the 70-year-old designer for plagiarising the work of Syndical Chamber, a Barcelona-based brand that sells nude illusion dresses. “I can’t believe you didn’t give credit to Syndical Chamber, as it is AN ABSOLUTE COPY of his work. Ridiculous,” one user wrote, while others went as far as to say Gaultier’s dress “doesn’t even look half as good as the original”. 

Even the founder of Syndical Chamber appeared to throw his weight behind the campaign, calling Gaultier “an actual copyyyy”. The irony, of course, is that Jean Paul Gaultier has pioneered the use of trompe l'oeil nudity since the 90s, and the piece in question came from the designer’s collaboration with Lotta Volkova, wherein the stylist repackaged the maison’s most infamous creations; among them cone bras, corsets, and second-skin buxom slips. But let’s take a further look – below is an example of Syndical Chamber’s recent offering:

And a piece from Jean Paul Gaultier’s 1996 collection:

Last season bore witness to the same kind of thing. Diet Pepsi criticised Prada for allegedly copying Balenciaga’s silhouettes, even though Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada had turned out bulwark-shoulders long before Demna. When certain areas of the industry are actually rife with plagiarism, this race to the bottom has just become so boring, not to mention inaccurate. This isn’t to berate Syndical Chamber, nor those who stood in its “defence”, but it is an indictment of culture at large.

Social media has created a new lens for literally everything to be tirelessly analysed, rewarding hot takes and cynicism before informed critique. But that’s just what happens when we place our fashion stock in Diet Nada for years on end – as opposed to, say, Google. “I’m disturbed that an ICON like Jean Paul Gaultier is being accused of ‘stealing’,” High Fashion Twitter’s @fashionfaguette posted to their 26k followers. “Just because something is popularised by a brand doesn't mean it’s their original idea.” Though Gaultier’s official Twitter account liked the tweet, there’s no doubt that a retired JPG is blissfully unaware, his attention unwavering from the spoils of daytime television.