As an aficionado of vintage fashion, it can be a minefield establishing if you have fallen for a genuine item or a counterfeit. If you desire a genuine vintage Chanel evening dress it just isn’t the same if you discover the dress you covet is a Chanel copy with a fake label sewn in.
However, between the world of genuine haute couture vintage pieces and scam knock-offs, there are vintage fashion items with original adaption labels which are a real find if you are lucky enough to come across them.
When the first haute couture fashion houses were founded in Paris they established a reputation for creating individual pieces tailored to the client. Of course their fabulous designs were tempting to counterfeiters. In the days before ready-to-wear became a mass market reality, the fashion houses pre-empted possible financial losses of their designs being ripped off, by choosing to license adaptations which had the right to bear adaptation labels. They would sell the rights for their designs to be reproduced by European and American businesses that would re-create or adapt the styles for a more mass market customer base.
Bergdorf Goodman, the luxury Manhattan department store, was one American business that bought licences to recreate haute couture fashion and sell the styles with adaptation labels showing the pieces were genuinely licensed copies of the original design. Clothes sold by Bergdorf Goodman with adaption labels were the precursor of today’s ready-to-wear lines launched by the fashion houses themselves.
Clothes sold with adaptation labels could be either adaptations of the original designs or faithful reproductions of the originals. The fashion houses licensing their clothes would be assured their name was linked to quality pieces rather than shoddy copies. Naturally the clothes brandishing adaptation labels were appealing to customers who wanted to be up-to-date with the latest designer fashions but couldn’t afford the exclusive price tags. The pieces carried the prestige without the hefty prices. Often an adaptation label would bear the words ‘authorized reproduction.’
This genuine Chanel adaptation label simply reads Adaptation Chanel Paris, while this Mad Carpentier adaptation label includes the name of the American ready-to-wear producer Puritan. In addition, it states that it is an authorized reproduction of Mad Carpentier. Other couture houses which licensed adaptations include Molyneux, Pierre Balmain, Bruyere and Lanvin.
Today you may discover an original vintage dress bearing an adaptation label and be confident it is a quality reproduction. You can browse for such pieces in boutiques specializing in vintage clothing or find them online.
This 1930s vintage Chanel dress is an example of a designer reproduction dress with an adaptation label.
The dress is styled in multi-colored floral silk organza with a floral adorned navy organza sash. In the 1920s Chanel began embellishing silk organza with floral appliques and this vintage dress is a fine example of the technique. In addition to licensing the rights to the design Chanel would also provide the fabric, enabling the licensee to create a truly authentic reproduction. The dress showcases the original adaptation label.