Earlier this week, Nicki Minaj made headlines when she sat next to a soberly-dressed Anna Wintour, wearing a rainbow, shoulder-pad-dress-concoction completely covered in neon pom-poms, at Carolina Herrera's Spring 2012 runway show. Everyone had a good laugh, and prasied Minaj for her gusto and originality...except that, as it turns, the hip-hop singer was wearing a flagrant rip-off of another designer's work.
Young designer Jessica Rogers, 21, of SomedayNewYorker, has been producing garments nearly identical to Minaj's--which both the singer and Rogers refer to as "Puff Ball" style--for almost three years now. What's more, Rogers tells us that Nicki Minaj's stylists had contacted her in the past about using some of her clothing--among them a Puff Ball dress--however once Rogers sent further images of her work, she never heard back from Minaj's team. Rogers said she even followed up a month later, sending more images of her puff ball garments, eager for the prospect of working with such a big-name star.
But it seems like Nicki Minaj--or more likely, her stylist--had different plans, copying the vulnerable young designer's work without so much as a mention. "When I saw the photos [of Minaj at Carolina Herrera] I was in tears," Rogers said. "I've worked very hard to make my dream of being a fashion designer come true. I have built contacts with Teen Vogue, Gaga, Katy Perry, and Marina and the Diamonds has worn my garments. [Now,] I feel like everything has crumbled down." Rogers was particularly upset that the hip-hop artist chose to wear a copy of her original garment during Fashion Week--an industry event the young designer has been aspiring to participate and show in. "I am very upset by the fact that she was sitting next to Anna Wintour," she said. "I admire Anna Wintour very much and I was hoping that one day she would see my garments and it would be the first time that she would see Puff Balls used as i use them."
Rogers knew for sure the garment was a direct copy of her work, when she heard Minaj's version refferred to as made of "Puff Balls," a term the designer coined. "'Puff Ball' is a term that i created to describe what is usually called pom poms," she explained. "I came up with the term "Puff Balls.'"
Adding insult to injury, when Rogers reached out to Nicki Minaj's stylist not just to confront her about the plagiarism but also to see if, in Rogers words, they could "take a bad situation and turn it into a good situation," by sending Minaj's team a proper SomedayNewYorker garment, the young designer was met with utter derision and harassment. "I ended up getting a call from the woman whom I will not name and she said she wasn't [Nicki Minaj's] stylist anymore," Rogers told us. "Then [she] started yelling at me, harassing me, and telling me that its a small community and I better watch what I say. I believe that she called me instead of emailed me because she did not want to have written proof that she had yelled and harassed me."
Rogers wanted to add that, "Many independent as well large scale designers go through this. Copying another designers work is wrong. It should not be stood for."
Let's hope, especially in this case, that this doesn't get overlooked. And Nicki, wear SomedayNewYorker!
You can view all of Rogers' designs here.