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Spotted backstage on the most current Prada present at Milan Fashion Week, among the many fashion pack sipping on stylish tumblers of champagne whereas politely declining stylish nibbles, stood a younger man and lady. Youthful, dressed casually — the male brief in stature and fewer chatty, the lady extra assured and sporting wild curls — they remained barely distant from the continued reception.
Striking up a dialog with them, I discovered extra clues to their id. They have been American. It was her first go to to Milan. They’d been invited by Gucci to attend its present, and had modified their flights residence when Prada had then prolonged them an invite. Further biographical info was not forthcoming. They didn’t even supply their names, nevertheless it quickly transpired the quiet, unassuming, very pleasant, couple have been the individuals behind Diet Prada, the formidably witty, ferocious and much-feared Instagram account whose mission is to name out copying within the fashion business.
The account, which they launched as a “passion project” in December 2014, has made its identify by publicly shaming the good and good of the business. Since its launch they’ve tried to maintain their anonymity shut, however the pair have been outed in October by The Fashion Law weblog as Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler. Liu is a nice arts graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and runs menswear capsule YOU AS, whereas Schuyler reportedly works for eyewear firm FGXI. The couple won’t affirm these particulars, however they did agree to speak to me about Diet Prada.
“When looking at runway shows together, we would do these live roasts of collections and crack each other up,” they clarify of the location’s origins. “We were just getting into Instagram and thought it would be funny to put it on the platform. Once we came up with the name it came together very naturally.”
Their modus operandi is straightforward: most days, they may publish side-by-side photographs of two totally different looks, nominating one the originator and the opposite the copyist. The posts are playful, light-hearted and steadily devastating. They humiliate fashion’s kleptomaniacs and unoriginal thinkers, no matter their standing within the business, or the response.
“I think we validate a lot of what people are thinking, but don’t want to say,” they are saying of their ever-burgeoning reputation. “We’re definitely not the only ones to say ‘hey this looks crazy similar to this show from last season’. We just do it without a filter and I think people appreciate the honesty.”
In three years, Diet Prada has turn out to be one of many sharpest and most influential voices in fashion. Dubbed “the fashion police” or “the most important fashion critics of today”, their account now boasts 157,00zero followers and consists of scores of main fashion creatives, editors and designers. “The followers really started to pick up after Milan and Paris Fashion Week,” they clarify, “but before then a lot of major people were already following us.” These main names embrace Rihanna, Naomi Campbell, Nicolas Ghesquière, Edward Enninful, Kendall Jenner, in addition to titles reminiscent of Vanity Fair and US Vogue — and lots of of them have felt the lash of their clear-eyed comparisons.
In an business the place advertisers nonetheless have maintain over what a fashion author may publish, Diet Prada throws its accusations round like hand grenades. The duo referred to as out JW Anderson as a result of its well-liked Pierce bag resembled an archive Hermès bag design; then they referred to as out Coach over an imitation of Anderson’s animal luggage for Loewe. That in flip precipitated an extended dialogue amongst readers as to who might declare the animal bag as their very own — they alighted on a German firm, referred to as Deru that first began making elephant equipment within the 1960s. They accused Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent of displaying boots that recalled an Isabel Marant design; and reckoned that Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma assortment was ripping off the London designer Christopher Kane.
Recently, they’ve taken on greater causes, posting exposés about Australian fashion rental websites charging clients for fakes and reposting tales of sexual harassment and abuse inside the modelling business. They aren’t afraid to call names, and repeatedly disgrace the opposite creatives which have continued to collaborate with the alleged abusers.
Arguably, Diet Prada owes a lot of its success to its place as outsiders — the pair act as a bridge between business insider and fashion fanatic. Their strategy is inclusive and digestible. Many fashion critics have an encyclopedic information, and the identical references at their fingertips, however their writing could be didactic. Diet Prada’s tone is extra catty however it’s all the time conversational. It invitations contributions and stimulates debate. It actively asks readers to ship “tip offs” about copying.
“We also make sure to respond to as many direct messages as possible,” they clarify. “There’s a sense of friendship and community there.”
And, in fact, it’s brilliantly entertaining. Since they began, the often cheerful, shiny and upbeat world of fashion has seen some fabulous spats. On October four, the pair determined Dolce & Gabbana’s graffiti–themed visible merchandising bore too shut a resemblance to Gucci’s current collaboration with road artist GucciGhost. Gabbana was having none of it, shortly firing off a response about how he’d been within the business for 32 years and had the unique concept again within the 1990s. Needless to say, it shortly escalated from there.
The pair at the moment are making an attempt to monetise their cattiness. They made T-shirts mocking Gabbana with the slogan #pleasesaysorrytome, which retailed for $38 with a proportion of funds going to the Nest Egg Foundation, a non-profit organisation working to assist purchase funds for in vitro fertilisation grants for these in monetary problem. “It feels great to have turned something sour into good,” they are saying.
And financially, the pair scored a coup when Gucci’s progressive digital workforce obtained in contact to ask them to take over the reside feed of its Instagram throughout Milan Fashion Week. Previously Gucci and its designer Alessandro Michele had been savaged by Diet Prada, which had accused him of taking concepts from, amongst others, make-up artist Pat McGrath, Harlem retailer proprietor Dapper Dan and the actor Divine. By inviting them to the present, to spotlight the various references on the present’s SS18 catwalk, Gucci seemed to be calling a truce, however some may interpret the sponsorship (they won’t disclose the charge) as a clumsy compromise. The pair who’ve labored so arduous to proclaim their independence as outliers, are slowly being reeled in.
Diet Prada’s popularity could also be combined, however for smaller, unbiased labels its affect might be seismic. In September, it accused the Italian luxurious home Valentino of copying the designs of an unbiased London jeweller Jessie VE, who makes rings that includes delicate numbers.
“My brand is just over two years old and in that time I’ve had to send at least 10 cease and desist letters,” she says of the issues she has had with copying. “Before Diet Prada I spent a lot of money instructing lawyers to handle the theft of my intellectual property. I felt that I didn’t have a lot of power against big companies — I fought a lot of cases very privately and felt quite deflated because it feels relentless — especially as finances aren’t endless for a small business. It wasn’t until Diet Prada that I realised the power of social media, and how angry it makes consumers when companies copy independent designer’s work. Since then I’ve called out numerous cases through my social media and received a much more prompt response and apology from brands that have copied my work.”
In these phrases, Diet Prada is a hit. But will it serve any lasting function? “We usually try to balance criticism, honesty, and a little bit of wit or sarcasm,” they are saying. I’m wondering if their strategy will in the future have the facility to place an finish to copying. Not doubtless, they pre-empt me: “With the nature of social media, people tend to move on — and forget.”