With debates raging about Virgil Abloh’s most recent Louis Vuitton collection looking strikingly similar to the work of Belgian OG designer Walter van Beirendonck, and with us realizing that accusing people of copying is lame, a new artifact has hit the market that shines a funny light on it all.
Behold, fresh out on SSENSE: a new Raf Simons safety pin earring that has just dropped as part of the designer’s seasonal line. Does it remind you of the paper clip jewelry that Virgil Abloh has been wearing personally for years, and which he made available to the public through his collaboration with Jacob & Co. this year? Is Simons’s “stealing” this idea of using office supplies as jewelry a way of exacting revenge for his Antwerp-based peer Van Beirondock? Or did the master intellectual property thief Abloh actually rob his idea from Simons before he even had a chance to make it?
The answer is: No, No, and No.
Moments like these bear the truth that we live in an aesthetically interconnected world, one where ideas hang in the air of our constantly flowing marketplace of images, creating what feels like a global form of cultural cloud computing. Did Simons see Abloh’s paperclip bracelet? Maybe no, but he definitely saw something made by someone who saw it, and the idea of an “office supply jewelry” began to hang in the midst of our aesthetic moment. Or, what almost definitely happened, is that they both “ripped off” a punk reference from Judy Blame or Vivienne Westwood or the work of the anonymous artist and club kid jewelry designer Maripol.
The reality is, our collective desire to talk about copycatting comes from a gladiatorial instinct within all of us. We want to see the artists we follow exist in intellectual combat with one another because it’s what makes music and fashion as fun as sports. This is why you clicked on the headline of this article. And it’s why we’ll definitely keep writing about this stuff.