Article : Bombay Times. Times of India 18/10/2003  
    `Inspiration' bug plagues fashion industry

Rina Dhaka, Tarun Tahiliani, J J Valaya showcase similar designs.
Who's the original?

Last week, fashion designer J J Valaya displayed a creation in the city that was very similar to one showcased at Lakme India Fashion Week (LIFW) by Tarun Tahiliani. It's what Tarun calls the `Jewel Tees'. Tarun is nonchalant. "I have been doing these `Jewel Tees' for the last year-and-a-half. It's clear what the
original source is. I heard about the show. I can say anything, but it is for those in the fashion industry to decide."

However, there's a twist in the tale. It appears, another Delhi- based designer, Rina Dhaka, had done similar tees much earlier. Says Rina, "I had shown these to my clients from Selfridges during the India Promotion that happened in May 2002. So my presentation must have been the Fall/Winter before that in 2001. On October 10, 2001, I displayed a bit of this collection in London for a charity show of which Tarun was also part of. I had shown my tees with jewellery embroidery and Indian mythology."

Tarun doesn't deny doing a show with Rina. "Yes, I did a show with her in London," he says. "T-shirts have been there for a long time. It's how we do it. The way Rina does it is different from the way we do it. She had Jewel T-shirts for the show and I had Jewel T-shirts, too." Says Rina, "I've been a designer since 1990, and have been making T-shirts. It's no big deal for me."

What's her take on this bout of `inspiration'? "Everybody is my friend," replies Rina. "There is nothing I can do. I feel flattered when I see the reflection of my work in mainstream designers. I guess imitation is the best form of flattery." And where did she get her `inspiration' from? "The popular streets of fashion in London, which I am familiar with, is what drew me to design these tees," she says.

Valaya, the man who raked up this controversy has the last say. He doesn't deny that the tees were showcased by Tarun at LIFW. "It has been showcased by Rina, Manish Arora, Monisha Jaisingh. The list is long," he says. "The T-shirt is a classic. It has been around for many years and will continue to be around. It's the new answer to the kurtis, which are on their way out. So that's what it really is all about. It remains a classic."



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