PARIS — A dispute that has ruffled the skirts of French haute couture for nearly six years has come to a head with one of the world's top fashion houses being fined for plagiarism.
The firm of Yves Saint Laurent was fined nearly $11,000 in a civil court in June for copying an outfit created by a rival firm.
The case was first brought to court in 1979 by the firm of Jacques Esterel, which claimed that a design called Toreador was the exact copy of one called Petit Marquis by Esterel's chief designer, Benoit Bartherotte.
Bartherotte sent a dozen policemen to Saint Laurent's salons, where a shocked aristocratic clientele watched the controversial design being impounded.
Saint Laurent's managing director, Pierre Berge, appeared before the criminal court, which heard that Bartherotte acquired a copyright for the page-like suit with knickerbockers and matching short jacket in January, 1979, before Saint Laurent showed it to the public.