Update: Air Tahiti's Balenciaga Uniform Controversy
Last week, I told you about Air Tahiti's new designer crew uniforms. While I was more concerned about mid-air wardrobe change logistics, and noted only in passing that the new togs didn't look so-very-Balenciaga to me, Jeffries Blackerby of The Moment was right on it. He reports that the outfits were designed by Balenciaga Uniforms, which is a division of a company that apparently has absolutely nothing to do with the design sensibility of Nicolas Ghesquière, Balenciaga's creative director. Blackerby advises Air Tahiti: "let's not get all excited", presumably about being associated with Balenciaga.
Now, let's take a step back. Blackberby is right to point out that Balenciaga Uniforms, which handled the design of Air Tahiti's new uniforms, is owned by a French company called Creation & Image. (Wheras the fashion house Balenciaga is owned by PPR, which also owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and many others.)
But licensing of a designer's name is what makes the fashion world go 'round -- should you need a little brush-up on how this works, here's a nice article from the New York Times (and of course The Moment is a New York Times' blog) concerning Vera Wang. I'll grant that some designers retain more control than seems to be the case at Balenciaga Uniform -- which is apparently absolutely none. (And that's despite the smoking gun that some commenters at The Moment think they've discovered when they point out that Nicolas Ghesquière apparently once worked in the uniform division -- an amusing, if meaningless, sidenote, absent any evidence that Ghesquière is keeping a loving and attentive eye on all the rungs of the ladder he's climbed.)
Still, I submit that Air Tahiti should get every bit as excited as it wants over its Balenciaga uniforms. If we're only going to allow purchasers to take credit for the designer items that they buy that are not made by license, the licensing business ceases to have all value, and really -- do we think our economy can take that? Leaving aside world economic well-being, for the more important fashion issue, I agree with a point that Danica Lo made over at The Haute List: Designers need to keep more control over their name.