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Thu, Oct 17, 2013
The New Paper
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The gown that caused a frown
by Kwok Kar Peng

 THE celebrity had popped into her shop, took a liking to a diamond-back gown, tried it on and even took a photo of it.

Now the designer of that gown is accusing Michelle Chia of stealing her design for the star's own wedding dress.

The accusation came just days before the Channel 8 host's wedding on Sunday.

Designer Renee Leung said that Michelle had visited her bridal boutique Renee L Collections last November to try on gowns for Channel 8's The Anniversary Show 2008.

That's when Michelle saw the diamond-back gown.

Five months later, Michelle wore a similar-looking gown in a cover of U Weekly, for a report on her wedding.

The gown was one the TV host intended to wear for her wedding.

Ms Leung cried foul.

Michelle, however, denied the accusation. On Sunday, she defiantly wore the dress.

It is understood that both parties have since consulted their lawyers on the matter.

This isn't the first time that the diamond-back design is introduced, said Mr Patrick Chan, who designed Michelle's gown.

According to Mr Chan, chief designer of bridal boutique The Wedding Present, the design had already made its appearance in a Monique Lhuillier gown a few years ago.

The New Paper understands from Mr Chan that the Lhuillier gown had a diamond back and cap sleeves, not unlike Ms Leung's gown.

Michelle's gown instead, features a halter-neck.

An unhappy Mr Chan said he is leaving the issue to Michelle to handle. He also said he thinks Ms Leung is over-reacting.

It is common practice for brides-to-be to refer to bridal magazines for ideas for their own gowns, he said.

Ms Aileen Chow, a bridal dress designer for Golden Horse Awards Bridal & Studio , agreed, and told The New Paper that 'there's no copyright (for dress design) in Singapore'.

She has never heard of anyone copyrighting a dress in her 22 years as a designer, she added.

While it is possible to copy the design of a high-end wedding dress, she said, it won't be an exact replica, because certain fabrics may not be available.

Both Ms Chow and Mr Frederick Lee of Frederick Lee Bridal don't do direct copying from other designers' gowns. They will instead modify the design and inject their own special touches.

Mr Lee told The New Paper that he doesn't register his designs because it's 'troublesome'.

He sounded taken aback when this reporter told him of the accusation by Ms Leung.

His designs, often splashed across magazine pages, have been copied many times as well, he said.

'I have seen staff from other bridal boutiques pretending to be couples and looking through my gowns. People have even told me that they saw gowns with my label hanging in other bridal boutiques,' Mr Lee alleged.

Though hurt initially, the designer of 16 years said he now sees imitation as the best compliment.

'I have to grow immune to it because there's no way to control copying,' he added.


This article was first published in The New Paper

readers' comments
too free ..nothing better to do..the outcome is one party has to compensate another wonder lawyers are rich..
Posted by smartrader on Thu, 14 May 2009 at 22:41 PM
Unless, the gown looks exactly the same like the recently Gucci and Guess shoes, you've got a case!

Best of luck!
Posted by on Thu, 14 May 2009 at 13:14 PM
It is a common practise for bridal studio to prohibit photo taking of any kind,
Did Renee Leung or company catch Michelle doing so? Or is the gown featured somewhere?

In the designing industries, we usually take briefs from the clients before we can come out with proposal to fit best the client's need. Most if not all designers will then look for references, modified it, improve it... ... Copying is an art! That's is why there are so many reference books available. Which designer dare to come out and say his/her are original these day?

All or most brides-to-be go for wedding shows, buy bridal magazines, visit bridal studios after bridal studios for ideas

Can you sue someone wearing a cheongsum? mandarin collar? turtle neck? long sleeves?... ...same cutting what!

Unless, the gown looks exactly .....
Posted by on Thu, 14 May 2009 at 13:12 PM
It is not easy to have very similar design unless someone copy another by analysing the photo.

It is a norm that copying happen in design world but it doesn't mean that it is right.

However, if there is no existing laws for protecting design copyright in Singapore. Then, too bad, Ms Leung cannot get any compensation.
Posted by on Thu, 14 May 2009 at 11:08 AM
It will be good that Mr Patrick Chan of bridal boutique, The Wedding Present come out clean and clarify whether the design was given by Michelle or he is the one who propose the design. If design is given by Michelle, did he seen the picture (as taken), which in itself is a copyright product.

For professionalism, he should come out to clarify. This is not a question of copyright but IT IS A QUESTION OF GOOD BUSINESS PRACTICE. WHO WILL DARE TO PATRONISE IF ONE ISN'T SURE OF THE TRUST........
Posted by robinthc on Thu, 14 May 2009 at 10:35 AM

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