Mother of London Knocked Off at AMAs | Haute Macabre

Mother of London Knocked Off at AMAs

UPDATE Willow Smith’s stylist responsible for ripping off Mother of London‘s signature harness at the AMAs has been named, and it’s not Mariel Haenn. The offending copycat in this case is Brea Stinson, aka Bstar. We’re relieved and thrilled that Mildred Von Hildegard is able to finally get the credit she deserves, and to move on.

Haute Macabre [and fashion blogs all around the Web], recently featured a Mother of London editorial so breathtaking, it’s likely left a permanent imprint it in your subconscious. Just in case, a reminder:

The editorial featured a recent incarnation of the iconic Mother of London ruffed, sleeved harness, which first made its appearance way back  in 2006.

This collage features a few versions of the harness. Also pictured, musician/actress Juliette Lewis and adult film star Belladonna, just two of MoL’s many celebrity clients, wearing their commissioned Mother of London harnesses.

And now, this.

That’s actress and budding pop star Willow Smith at last night’s American Music Awards. But her ill-fitting, canary-yellow harness is not the handiwork of Mildred Von, the designer behind Mother of London.

Oh HELL no.

The search for the perpetrator is underway, with sources currently pointing to Willow’s stylist, Marial Haenn. The noted celebrity stylist has denied her involvement in a series of emails with Nadya Lev of Coilhouse Magazine. However, considering that these denials came after the knock-off story erupted all over the internet, and not when Haenn was being praised for “her” work by tabloids earlier today, we all find it rather dubious. Unless someone else steps up to the plate, we are left to assume this is Haenn’s doing, whether directly or via outsourcing.

Mildred Von spoke to Haute Macabre, saying:

I’m disappointed and saddened that this will negatively impact my business. My original design is now recognized in the mass media as someone else’s work, and it’s very hurtful on both a personal and professional levels. I hope this can be resolved, and I wish nothing but the best to Willow.

Indeed.  And the fact that there is a talented, engaging ten-year-old now indefinitely associated with this mucky situation makes it so much worse.

The only viable resolution is for the responsible party [or parties] to immediately come forward and publicly apologize, so that Mildred Von / Mother of London can get the recognition and compensation she deserves.

Photo by Chad Michael Ward. Harness by Mother of London.

28 Comment

  1. You know what I find interesting above all else? Is that society looks down on “alternative” fashion/lifestyle and here is a 10 year old wearing a horrid replica of fine gothic couture…. yes world we are sooo terrible, now since your clothes and style are boring, you steal ours…ugh..

  2. Art lives off art. “Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso. This is not to excuse, just to explain, that art is an ecology of ideas. Things get mimicked, its an indication of their success. Well done, Mother of London. I am sure Mildred Von will remain quite ahead of the game for some time to come.

  3. funny, i seen the pics b4 i read it…and i thought something was off abt the yellow, lol…
    the craftsmanship, quality, especially the buckle!

  4. u can either view it as flattery or forgery.

    personally it’s nice having something that I love at a price I am afford. jeffrey campbell makes knockoffs but his shoes are fantastic and affordable. I would love to be a heiress or make enough to buy a McQueen piece but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. And same goes for MOL. I love her designs but would/could I ever own one? probably not.

    I still find the Lip Service/Louise Black thing pretty shady but it’s simply because L.Black makes affordable pieces and I feel the person who designed the MOL harness should give credit where it is due & not say a 10 year old designed the piece herself..that was pretty silly.

  5. Unfortunately its really sad, that things like this happen…seems like there is too many people with a lack of imagination.

    In my 10 years of running Plastik Wrap we encountered number of knock offs of our styles, some of the companies even got as far as producing our exact dress in different fabric in China and selling it in Europe…

    There is nothing we can do about it and rather than carry around anger, the best thing is to move forward and create new more exciting styles that will show the world our creativity.
    Think about it as being one step ahead. 😉

  6. Ferret, I totally agree with you.

    Haute Macabre, I am pretty disappointed in your blatant hypocrisy. Remember this?

    This isn’t so shocking as stylists LOVE to rip off designers, just look at Nicola Formichetti (Lady Gaga’s stylist).

    PS- That piece has been floating around since 2005, it’s about time MoL was known for something other than the puffy sleeved harness.

  7. Unfair, I appreciate you leaving the same comments here and on Coilhouse, but notice that neither blog says that Mariel is in the wrong. Here, I said that sources pointed to her, and our readers were left to make up their own minds. And, as you can see at the top of this post, an update has been issued, pointing to the JustJared post that clears Mariel’s name.

  8. uhh, sorry to break it to you all, but the fashion industry is based on knocking stuff off. This VERY BLOG has a feature they entitle “knock it off!”. What’s with the double standard, guys? a cheap replica is OK when you don’t know the designer, but not OK when the designer is a friend of yours? Yeah, knocking stuff off is shady. But it’s what the fashion industry runs on, and it’s nessicary for the industry to function.

    (If we allow fashion copyright, it’s only a matter of time before things like t-shirts and cardigans are copyrighted, the courts are clogged with expensive and frivolous lawsuits, and normal average person can’t afford to buy clothes because the prices are jacked up on everything either because it’s copyrighted and they can or to cover the costs of legal battles. It would absolutely tank the industry and make clothing unaffordably expensive across the board.)

    If you are a designer, you MUST expect to be knocked off and just use the experiance to force you to make your next collection even MORE innovative and cool so that the knock off looks ugly and passe. If you are a designer and can’t handle being knocked off, either go to law school or STFU.

  9. Now that Just Jared cleared Mariels name and named the real stylist/designer seems like the only people in the wrong are you and the other bloggers who slandered her.

    You ruined an innocent persons name and reputation. That is WAY WORSE than knocking off a design.

    The least you could do is update your post and apologize. Or do you not live by your own code?

  10. “Willow Smith made fashion waves at the 2010 American Music Awards on Sunday (November 21) for boldly stepping out in an unforgettable ensemble, pairing a custom-made gray romper with a stand-out yellow buckled arm piece. can confirm that Brea Stinson, aka Bstar, was the stylist/designer responsible for the look.

    Unfortunately, fashionistas everywhere quickly recognized the piece as a knock-off sheath by Mother of London from designer Mildred Von Hildegard”

    Read more:

  11. Jenni, I actually spoke to someone who used to work in the design dept. at Lip Service, also during the time Lippy was ripping my cameo corset design. The girl I know asked the offending designer if she knew who I was and had seen my design. She of course denied it.

    I was more worried when I’d been shown the line sheets. Everything looks good on paper, but when I saw the actual product I wasn’t really worried. The corset skirt, bustier, and corset dress all look super cheap and the pleather cameo with screen printed image was a bad idea as the image just washed out so you couldn’t really see it. The whole thing was so poorly executed. I did get some attention after LS launched this line because a bunch of my outraged customers were kind enough to do comparison shots and blog posts about Lippy’s knockoffs.

  12. There is so much wrong here, I don’t even know where to begin. Is Willow being credited for ‘designing’ the ripoff? A 10 year-old? Wut? First of all, she shouldn’t even be wearing something like that, (aside from the fact that her outfit is hideous) she’s a bloody child. Even if it’s her stylist being credited for the design or Willow is, or some other unknown person, it’s just bad taste all around. She should be dressed her age, rather then some Beyonce or Lady Gaga attempt.

    The person should come forward and make an apology of some sort, granted I’m doubtful of it ever happening. But hopefully with all this uproar, interest will be passed back to Mother of London for her original work, and not for all the wrong reasons.

  13. The thing is with the fashion world there will ALWAYS be copycats. I don’t understand how ripping off MoL’s designs are any less outraging than Steve Madden ripping off the McQueen boots. Someone in McQueen’s shoe department had to design them, and now their design is associated with cheap knockoffs.

    Working in the fashion industry is hell truly hell and the sad reality is that this kind of shit happens every day. What’s even worse is that bringing your portfolios to interviews can result in not getting a job but them coming out with a similar design, even something so frightening as your own professor at university ripping off your design. It’s unfortunate, but it’s part of the business… there’s a reason they call the fashion industry cut throat.

    When it’s a blatant copy it can get exceptionally enraging (particularly a cheap knockoff) but even Coco Chanel said that without copying there would be no fashion.

    Copycats are unavoidable and the only way to beat them as a designer is to keep designing and make a quality product… or just make it so expensive/difficult to produce that it is fairly impossible to be copied.

    PS Louise: Funny thing, I actually interned for Lip Service when they ripped off your corset… the designer said she likes Etsy for “inspiration”.

  14. I’m with Louise.

    As an aspiring designer, I feel the same fear that someone will steal my designs. I would never be able to justify doing a knock-off as someone else’s design. How could any designer feel that’s morally acceptable?

    We do need to stick together. Not just independent fashion designers, but the entire fashion underground. People need to be held accountable for their actions. Greed and apathy have ruled for too long.

    I’m thankful that at least this specific issue is being addressed. I hope justice is delivered and Mildred receives the credit she deserves.

  15. I’m pissed off at someone, just not sure who it is yet.

    Ok, here’s the thing: I saw a shot of Willow in a magazine the other day where she was wearing an EXACT replica of a Balmain coat, but the magazine said “Willow, in a jacket of her own design.”

    I scoffed as to whoever would say that, since it was clearly a Balmain design. Now, seeing this, it’s clear that Willow’s “designs” are knock-offs. That said, I’m not placing blame on her, I think it’s her parents/and/or reps who are finding these designs and crediting her with designing them to give her that extra “edge” (at 9-10, for God’s sake) since her album just dropped.

    Either way, it’s wildly irresponsible and obnoxious on the part of all the adults behind this. Actually, it enrages me.

  16. yep Han, I totally agree with you. I hate knock offs and would never consider buying a knock off item, because the same thing happened to me, but unfortunately no one made a big stink over it the way everyone’s done for Mildred.

    I posted Lip Service ripping off my iconic “cameo corset” over in coilhouse.
    I don’t condone what Willow’s stylist did, but holy cow! Mildred’s line is getting some serious publicity because so many people have come forward to help her out.

    here’s the comment I left in Coilhouse:
    Like-wise, earlier this year I got a score of emails from fans letting me know Lip Service had blatantly ripped off my iconic “cameo corset” ( ) idea, and mass-produced an entire line based around it called the The Lost Velvet Empire. here’s an example: All with my signature pleated ribbon, lace trim, and bow cameo.

    I called Lip Service and complained to the head designer but they refused to do anything, telling me I shouldn’t worry, the quality wasn’t as great as mine and shouldn’t be competition for my line.

    UGH. there have been scores of smaller designers copying my corsets and selling them in etsy, on ebay, etc. When I emailed one of these copy cats and asked them to please stop selling my design, she responded by saying she didn’t think I’d mind because I was such a “big designer”, and she wasn’t competition for me. People, I struggle just like everyone else as an indie designer.

    I really wish there was something we could do. Some way to protect our signature designs. Mildred’s harness sleeve top is definitely about as signature a piece as you can get, as is my “cameo corset”. Being designers in the “alt fashion” world, we need to stick together and look out for each other.

  17. That’s absolutely awful, and I really hope somebody gets to the bottom of this. Disgraceful.

    Not trying to start anything, but that being said, maybe Haute Macabre should also reconsider its approach to knock offs from other designers. I absolutely love this blog, but I wince every time it publishes an article on knock offs that does not condemn them. I know it’s a heated debate, but seeing this hit a little “closer to home” might make it more decisive this time around.

  18. Wow. That is such a blatant ripoff. Willow doesn’t deserve to be caught up in the middle of this, either; her stylist likely showed her the outfit, she thought it was cool and different, and she didn’t know her stylist was a thief.

    I just hope that the truth of the situation spreads so that people give credit where it’s due, instead of claiming Willow is a visionary (which, unfortunately, is prone to happen).

  19. I hope people will do their research if they are curious about Willow Smith’s outfit, so that they may find out it’s a replica and nothing compared to the original master craftsmanship. ):

  20. I am the model in that last picture. (

    I hope somehow this situation is resolved. It’s unbelievable that they didn’t even just take inspiration from the design, but they flat out stole it.

  21. This saddens me. I am a serious fan of MOL and Mildred, and I hate that something as awful as this would happen to her. I really do hope someone can get to the bottom of this cheap and ultimately lame, desperate lobby for false fashion praise or better yet they speak up for being asshats. Mildred’s work is an amazing contribution to the industry and fans of the aesthetic in general, she deserves much more – they should have just gone to you if they wanted the look! I’m sure it would’ve looked better too considering this is not a very good-looking knock-off :/ Best of luck to you Mil!

    <3 Ed Autumn

  22. This is unacceptable… I don’t know who had their head lodged so far up their ass thinking that no one would notice, but MOL could have a serious case here. On top of that, the overall color/styling is atrocious and the harness itself is not age appropriate (removing the leg strap didn’t make it so either).

  23. You said it, sista.

    Mil works so hard! She deserves to be paid/credited for her beautiful work, not ripped off like this. I can only imagine how disheartened she must feel, considering that this specific design has come to be so emblematic of the look and style of her entire line.

    What breaks my heart most about this debacle is the distinct possibility that none of MoL’s actual paying clients will wear this design on the red carpet now that a presenter already has. That translates as money being taken directly out of Mil’s pocket, her recognition being taken, and her reputation being tarnished (because of how shoddy the knockoff/styling is on Willow’s version) all in one sweep.