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When photos of pop culture icons Katy Perry (Met Ball) and Vanessa Hudgens (YouTube Awards) wearing gowns from the collection went viral, we gleefully tweeted and Facebooked.
If we could afford it, you can be sure that we would be sporting any number of items from this collection. Perhaps one of these gorgeous blouses . . .
So far, so good. Sumptuous Byzantine mosaics are now the darlings of haute couture and pop culture. Being mosaic-centric, we are happy. Successful fashion trends like this often “trickle down” to the mass market. Remember this wonderful scene from The Devil Wears Prada?
Unfortunately, we don’t think that the horrendous blouse below is what Meryl was talking about.
The photo above was taken in a very chic department story in Istanbul earlier this week. The imagery you see here has been stolen from contemporary mosaic artist Lilian Broca.
This is not the trickle down of a fashion concept. This is theft. Some designer for a women’s wear manufacturer saw the buzz about Katy and Vanessa in social media and thought, “Aha! If we act fast, this is a trend we can make money from. I’ll just start googling Byzantine mosaic.” And voila, we have the abdomen covering abomination above and the equally hideous rip-off below.
With a little googling of our own, we quickly found several dresses for sale on line made from a fabric with a mosaic “mash up” pattern that included figures from another one of the Queen Esther works.
In this case, the fabric’s designer actually swapped out Haman’s head for that of Mordechai – an aesthetic choice we are a bit baffled by. Bad taste aside, it is, again, theft. And, if we looked long enough, we could probably find the work of still more contemporary mosaic artists in this mish-mosh of a print.
It took Lilian Broca over five years to make the 10 mosaics in The Queen Esther Series which covers the Biblical thriller about a Hebrew beauty contest winner who conceals her religion, becomes a queen and, through the courageous use of her womanly wiles, saves her people from a massacre sanctioned by her husband. Individual works have garnered international awards including a Gold Medal from the 2003 Florence Biennale and a place in MAN’s Exhibition in Print 2011. Famed feminist artist Judy Chicago wrote the forward to a book about the mosaics – “The Hidden and the Revealed: The Queen Esther Mosaics of Lilian Broca” and a documentary about Broca’s life – “Return to Byzantium: The Art and Life of Lilian Broca” – has received critical acclaim.
This is not the first time that Broca has had her work appropriated. She is understandably frustrated and angry.
In the past I have seen my mosaics reproduced badly and cheaply by unscrupulous companies in 3rd world countries. This time the designs were stolen and printed on clothes. It pains me to great lengths to see my art reduced to decorative patterns on mass produced fabrics intended for wear. As artists, have we no recourse?
As far as we can see – apparently not. International laws on artist’s rights are, at best, flimsy and Broca does not have the resources of a Louis Vuitton or Jeff Koons. It’s just a damned shame.
- Lilian Broca’s website
- Lilian Broca in MAN’s Exhibition in Print 2011 here
- Review of “The Hidden and the Revealed: The Queen Esther Mosaics of Lilian Broca” on MAN here
- Order “The Hidden and the Revealed: The Queen Esther Mosaics of Lilian Broca” here
- Return To Byzantium website