Chanel apologises for copying Scots Fair Isle designs

Karl Lagerfield debuting the M�tiers d'Art collection in Rome. Picture: Getty Images
Karl Lagerfield debuting the M�tiers d'Art collection in Rome. Picture: Getty Images
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FASHION house Chanel has issued an apology to a Scottish designer after admitting that they copied one of her designs for their latest collection.

Fair Isle designer Mati Ventrillon was visited by two Chanel staff earlier this year who bought some garments for “research”. The designer, who knits the traditional jumpers on the remote Fair Isle, accused Chanel of undermining the history and value of her trade by copying the designs.

“Earlier this summer two Chanel staff visited Fair Isle and bought some of my stock garments with the understanding that the garments were for research,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “I specifically said that I was going to sell it to them for the reputation of Chanel house and because I would not expect them to copy my design... little [did] I know.”

Ventrillon was shocked to see a jumper almost identical to her design on the catwalk, as part of Chanel’s latest Métiers d’Art collection. After the collection debuted in Rome, Ventrillon took to social media to point out blatant similarities between her designs and those of Karl Lagerfield, head of the Chanel fashion house.

Fair Isle forms part of the Shetland Islands and the knitting technique associated with it is widely recognizsed for its complex, repeating patterns.

Ventrillon has expressed concern at the undervaluing of traditional craftsmanship. All other products are made-to-order, made from organic Shetland wool and supports the historic trade of Fair Isle.

She said: “All your knowledge, all your skills, all your understanding, all your history, all your heritage has no value when it comes to business so what are we craft people going to do? How are skills and heritage going to be valued in the future if we want tradition and craftsmanship to survive?”

Chanel have now admitted that they made a mistake in copying her work, saying “Further to discussions that have allowed the parties to clarify this issue, Chanel will credit Mati Ventrillon by including the words ‘Mati Ventrillon design’ in its communication tools to recognise her as the source of inspiration for the knitwear models in question.

“Chanel recognises that this situation resulted from a dysfunctionality within its teams and has presented its apologies. Chanel also recognises the heritage and know-how of Fair Isle. Chanel wishes to emphasise that the House is extremely vigilant in terms of its respect for creativity, whether its own or that of others.”