Fighting the Fakes: Louis Vuitton and Murakami Make a Show of It

Make no mistake ? Louis Vuitton is well-equipped for combat against counterfeiters.

Tonight, Vuitton is celebrating Takashi Murakami’s “© Murakami” exhibition with a “Brooklyn Ball” at the Brooklyn Museum featuring a special performance by Kanye West, the unveiling of a new camouflage print developed by Murakami and Marc Jacobs called Monogramouflage and a special installation designed to bring attention to one of the industry’s biggest travails ? counterfeits.

But rather than simply hand out leaflets to alert guests about the importance of protecting original designs, the French luxury goods house will be taking a novel, somewhat intriguing route. Outside the museum, Vuitton is setting up 10 New York-style street vendors ? not to sell fakes, but rather authentic Louis Vuitton product and special Monogramouflage canvases that Murakami has created specifically for the exhibition.

While it may seem lighthearted on the surface, the presentation is meant to underscore just how serious Vuitton executives are taking the counterfeit trade, and how diligently they are working to stop copycats from getting their merchandise to consumers.

“We always thought that counterfeit requires zero tolerance for several reasons,” Yves Carcelle, chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton, told WWD in an exclusive interview. “It’s a gray economy that escapes all rules of normal labor and normal economic rules and taxations, so it’s a bad thing for every state in the world. Secondly, it’s bad for any kind of creativity, research and development, because if you don’t protect intellectual property, why should people dedicate time and energy to create?”

Carcelle will highlight the issue in a press conference with Brooklyn Museum director Arnold Lehman and New York City deputy mayor Ed Skyler prior to the gala’s cocktail hour tonight.

Vuitton is no newcomer in the fight against counterfeiters. This year also marks the centennial of its first court case. In 1908, the brand won a ruling from the Paris Appeal Court to halt the distribution of look-alike trunks.

The luxury brand now employs a 40-member team that focuses exclusively on protecting its trademarks, designs, models, copyrights and domain names. The team is based in Paris, with regional offices in New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Milan, Dubai, Buenos Aires and Guangzhuo, China.

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