RED ALERT: Design inspiration is often nebulous at best from one designer to the next, but Marc Bouwer was clear-eyed as can be after seeing Allison Janney’s Oscar Night dress Sunday.
Incensed that the red jersey gown with long slit sleeves looked a little too familiar, the designer posted a similar looking dress that he showed in September 2016 beside one of the Reem Acra-designed red gown worn by the “I, Tonya” actress with, “They say it’s the sincerest form of flattery.”
On Monday, Acra said via a spokeswoman, “The dress designed for Allison Janney was adapted from a style in our 2016 collections. She looked wonderful and we are proud to be a part of the 2018 Academy Awards.”
Requests for an image of that dress and the specific season it was introduced were not acknowledged Tuesday. Bouwer also allegedly posted “copy, copy, copy” beneath an image of Janney on Reem Acra’s Instagram Monday, but those comments were deleted in about 20 minutes, according to Paul Margolin, president of the designer’s company. The Reem Acra spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment regarding that Tuesday.
“People called and said, ‘Congratulations on the dress,’” said Margolin, referring to how others mistook Janney’s Oscar Night dress for one designed by Bouwer. Margolin noted that the Reem Acra dress’ V-neckline is shaped similarly to the Bouwer one, even though it is not as plunging. and the slits on the sleeves hit at the same point on the arm. Margolin said Acra once told him how “underrated” Bouwer was as a designer. “I know these designers look at other people’s stuff. Because it’s Marc they figure they can just do it because what is Marc going to do about it?” Margolin said. “There is nothing like this in Reem’s collection at all.”
Margolin also posted an Instagram Story Monday with both comparison photos and “Congrats @allisonbjanney Well deserved and you look great in our design sadly it was ‘custom’ from another designer.” Margolin also noted the Oscar look was styled by @TaraSwennen. “Time to call people out.”
Stylist Tara Swennen’s agent Clarke Leisy at The Wall Group did not respond to requests for comment. “I have had no problem with Reem in the past. I know she likes Marc so I’m sure she watches him. Whether it was her personally, or her design team, or maybe it was the stylist who said, ‘I want this dress. Can you do it?’” Margolin said. “Reem doesn’t do that minimal cut jersey, that athletic glamour that Marc is known for. She is known for intricate beading, so somebody saw the dress.”
Another stylist Law Roach did recently pull Bouwer’s red jersey dress for Mary J. Blige who can be seen wearing it on the April cover of Ebony magazine.