Vivienne Westwood Accused of Plagiarizing Artist’s Design

The score was settled thanks to outraged posts on social media.

Left: Roberta Marrero, The Man You Love Number Four (2015). Right: Vivienne Westwood's "El Diablo" T-shirt. Image courtesy Roberta Marrero.

What’s the most punk thing to do in the face of plagiarism accusations? Apologize, according to Vivienne Westwood.

A Spanish artist accused the British brand of using her work without permission—a story that’s familiar to too many indie designers and underground artists. But rather than go the lawsuit route, the artist says that the brand quickly got in touch with her to set things straight.

Collage artist Roberta Marrero was saddened to find Vivienne Westwood, a brand she admires, had allegedly used one of her designs—a photograph of a mustached man surrounded by devilish doodles—and printed it on a t-shirt. After a series of social media call-outs,Marrero said the brand got in touch with her to tell her it was all one big accident.

“They have apologized to me and blamed it all on a mistake,” Marrero told the Las Palmas local newspaper La Provincia.

The shirt was designed by Dame Westwood’s husband and the brand’s creative director Andreas Kronthaler. He apparently didn’t realize that the appropriated image was the work of a contemporary artist, despite the original work bearing a date and the artist’s signature.

The “Diablo T-Shirt” was on sale for €315 ($343), while Marrero is selling the 2015 original, entitled The Man You Love Number Four, on her website for €190 ($207).

Marrero has good faith in Vivienne Westwood. She told La Provincia, “The fact that a company like this would get in touch with you is proof that their intention was neither to steal nor to plagiarize my work. We are negotiating to correct it.”

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