DALLAS — King Copycat Victor Costa has put his own spin on the YSL-Ralph Lauren dress brawl.
Costa said that two years before the Yves Saint Laurent and Ralph Lauren tuxedo dresses came out, he had already produced his version of it by knocking off someone else.
Costa’s dress appeared in his spring 1990 sample dress catalog, well before the autumn-winter 1992-’93 YSL couture collection that carried the dress in dispute.
His inspiration? Costa credits Parisian designer Bernard Perris’s fall 1989 collection.
“I thought: That looks like my dress — my old dress!” said Costa, describing his reaction when he saw a photograph of the Saint Laurent dress in question. “To my eye, it’s identical.
“I believe that the Bernard Perris was a short dress and because ‘Le Smoking’ was being touted in the press, I made it long,” Costa explained. “It was a long dress, just like the Saint Laurent is.”
Costa said he shipped 213 of the dresses in black and white rayon and acetate flour-ply crepe in January of 1990. It sold for $245 wholesale.
“It was always a favorite,” Costa reflected.
Informed in Paris of Costa’s confession, Bernard Perris said, “That’s funny, and might well be true, as Victor has copied so many of my dresses. In fact, one of the many dresses he copied is in the Houston fashion museum. I made a present of it, as Victor comes from there.”
But Perris doesn’t take any credit for blazing the tuxedo trail. In fact, he gives the nod to YSL.
“To be honest,” he said, “I did design a tuxedo dress for the spring-summer collection I showed in October 1989. But mine had a sort of man’s dress shirt with it, so it doesn’t sound exactly the same. But it’s also true that Mr. Saint Laurent did the first tuxedo dress 20 years ago. No question about that.”