Fair Isle designer Mati Ventrillon has accused Chanel of copying her designs. Fair Isle, a traditional knitting technique known for its unique patterns and colors, is named after Fair Isle, an island north of Scotland. According to Ventrillon, two Chanel employees visited her this past summer to research her designs. Ventrillon later posted 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." 

The designer, who knits traditional jumpers on the remote Fair Isle, was surprised to see an almost identical jumper as part of Chanel's Metiers d'Art Collection (view the show here). After the collection debuted in Rome, Ventrillon pointed out the obvious similarities between her designs and the fashion house's collection on her twitter account (see image below). 

Ventrillon's primary concern is that Chanel's copying undermines the history, value and craftsmanship of her trade. She stated that “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 has since admitted their mistake. The fashion house has issued an apology and offered a solution. “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.”

This situation further illustrates how vulnerable cultural designs and fashion are to theft and appropriation. For example, Isabel Marant faced similar accusations when the designer was accused of copying traditional Mexican embroidery in her designs.  


sources: bloomerg, scotsman, vogue, images: Getty Images