FAIL-tastic Mother of London Forgery at the AMA’s

UPDATE 11/24/10 11:45 PM: reports that the person responsible for the yellow replica is Brea Stinson (@breabstar on Twitter), a fashion stylist represented by Balan, Inc.

Stylist Mariel Haenn is not responsible for this look, and was not involved in any aspect of Willow Smith’s styling for the AMA’s. I’ll be following up with a new blog post to clear up any confusion.

You guys all know Mother of London, the fashion label of designer and artist Mildred Von Hildegard. We’ve featured Mother of London in Coilhouse issues 01, 04 and 05, and we previously blogged some of Von Hildegard’s incredible creations here and here. Yesterday, an outfit very similar to one of Mother of London’s most iconic pieces appeared on ABC’s American Music Awards, worn by 10-year-old pop star Willow Smith, daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett. Yet the poorly-made yellow garment was created by an unknown designer without Von Hildegard’s knowledge or consent.

Mother of London knock-offs are nothing new. But the innocuous ModelMayhem fashion shoot or occasional Etsy neckpiece doesn’t damage Von Hildegard’s business nearly as much as a replica for a mainstream celebrity. Von Hildegard makes her living by loaning out pieces for music videos (Kerli, Natalia Lesz), commercials (Got Milk?), and by doing celebrity styling (most recently, she has dressed The Black-Eyed Peas, Juliette Lewis, and, in an outfit ironically similar to young Willow’s knockoff, adult performer Belladonna). Despite some of these big-name clients and her notoriety in the alf-fashion world, Von Hildegard remains a struggling independent designer. Now, she will never be able to loan out this top, one of her signature pieces, to any other celebrity, as it’s been seen on ABC and covered by dozens of mainstream fashion blogs. “Sad thing is,” Von Hildegard says, “I could have totally made her a G-rated version of this top and would have enjoyed doing so! I’d never heard of Willow until today, but she’s cute and interesting.”

The designer of Smith’s outfit remains unknown, but several blogs attributed the design to Willow Smith’s official stylist, Mariel Haenn, before the Mother of London connection was made. Celebrifi wrote, “the outfit, which included a grey one piece, a belted one shoulder top and slouched boots, was more than likely a custom made creation from stylist Mariel Haenn.” So far, Haenn only claims credit for styling Rihanna at the awards, and has advised bloggers to “check ur facts.” Responding to a Coilhouse inquiry, Haenn wrote: “To be honest I have no idea who ‘styled’ her or the designer. Wish I did. I don’t ask my clients who they used when I’m not available.”

Coilhouse will continue to investigate. In the meantime… WHIP YO HAIR GIRL:

(via Mer, thanks!)

26 Responses to “FAIL-tastic Mother of London Forgery at the AMA’s”

  1. Tweets that mention Coilhouse » Blog Archive » FAIL-tastic Mother of London Forgery at AMA’s -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by coilhouse, olga nunes, nadya lev, nadya lev, Kim Dancy and others. Kim Dancy said: RT @coilhouse: New blog post: FAIL-tastic Mother of London Forgery at AMA's … […]

  2. Pigskin Pete Says:

    I admire your ferocity in standing up for your friend.

  3. Kambriel Says:

    In light of what happened recently with the uncredited copy/rip off “homage” of the lace peacock McQueen gown that was used in the new Harry Potter film, what gets me about this sort of thing is how “designers” who do something like this could ever feel any kind of accomplishment when they’re just riding off the coat tails of someone else’s creative vision. In this case, it’s a missed opportunity for an independent designer whose creation was obviously intriguing enough to stand on it’s own and be chosen for such a high profile event. Here’s hoping next time the client will find their way straight to the *real* source for something which in the end will be far more worthy of being worn and enjoyed, not to mention being something created/designed for an individual, not simply a duplicate.

  4. Meredith Yayanos Says:


    We love you, Milly von Hilly.

    ps: Amusingly enough, the parrot “Whip My Hair” video is a knockoff, too. Here’s the original.

  5. Kambriel Says:

    The shorter reply would be, “Congratulations Mildred for having your design appear at the AMA’s”, since afterall, that is what happened.

  6. Louise black Says:

    have you guys seen how many knock offs have been done of my famous “cameo corset”? F-ing Lip Service copied it (wish you guys had written an article on that bit of ridiculousness); lace trim, pleated ribbon, and bow!! I get customers emailing every month letting me know some other designer has copied me. What can we do?

  7. Beth Says:

    Well done, you guys. Disgraceful. It’s hard enough for the talented, individual and passionate to get noticed and appreciated without them being completely ripped the hell off!

    And thankyou so much for another great collewction of amazing examples in multimedia of my favourite designer. Support a-go-go!

  8. Ekqualyte Says:

    You can clearly see that that this could of been a knock off.
    BUT the design and concept was well thought out, original and HOT!!
    I wonder why the stylist did not pull from Mother of London.

    The Stylist should have pulled from Mother of London because it easy to recognize the difference in the quality.

    So in a way the styist did wha stylist suppose to do for the brand.. EXPOSE BRANDS AND DESIGNERS!!!

    She Exposed It to a broader audience and demographics.

    I am know a fan of Mother of London and will be contacting them for my own style pull…and I am sure A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE ARE NOW AS WELL


  9. Ekqualyte Says:

    Check it out or @Ekqualyte on tweeter

  10. Lolla Says:

    Oh, that is so annoying…when I saw the outfit on stage, I thought to myself: , congrats to Mother of London!!!

    Sad to hear that she was not involved and somebody had the balls to copy such an iconic piece…

  11. Ashbet Says:

    That is unbelievably blatant and awful. I’m so sorry that Mildred has been put in this position — she deserves to be the one getting full credit for this, and instead, she’s now going to be forced to pull one of her own most iconic pieces, just because a ripoff artist put a copy onstage.

    I hope that the mainstream media picks this up, so that Mildred can get proper credit for her beautiful, original work!!

  12. lumivalkoinen Says:

    Boo! First, since this is so important an article, can we have a spelling adjustment? The “alf-fashion” is absolutely killing me. *nudge* I would email this comment instead but I’m just afraid it’d get lost in the swarm!

    Maybe Mildred doesn’t have to throw in the towel for this piece. If anything, it only shows how much better her piece is. She can turn the tables by banking on it now that it’s on Will Smith’s daughter ~ for example, recreating new & even more fantastic version of this iconic piece (made in lace, see-through, even BIGGER, more straps, etc. but still undeniably Mother of London) … and thusly will always show just how much more awesome she is AND ‘DON’T EVER FORGET THAT MOTHERFUCKERS AND COPYCUNTS!” :D

    But please do forgive me if those were insensitive comments – not meaning to be. only want to see mega-success here – and perhaps offer a different viewpoint on this here. Chanel didn’t stop or die with boucle suits when others made it, too. The boucle suit is still best done by Chanel & the covet for their items is still at breathtakin’ levels for fashionistas. (ew, can’t believe i just used that word “fashionista”) …

    Love you, Nadya, Coilhouse & Mildred!

  13. rickie Says:

    i agree with lumi. the people who buy knockoffs are not the same people who buy original designer fashion. i think mil can still be successful from her own pieces.

  14. Emotional hygiene | November 23, 2010 | massively vroop vroopin it | Says:

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  15. Louise Black Says:

    Mildred, take this as a sign you’re doing something right. I wouldn’t remove this piece from your line-up. Quite the contrary, I would advertise it even more and make a stink about the rip off. Let everyone know where they can get the original.

    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.

  16. Two wrongs don't make a right Says:

    Having your intellectual property stolen is both violating and inexcusable.

    Other things that are total fails?

    1. Terrible journalism. Even the most cursory fact checking would have yielded other results. You decided to attack someone based on an uncredited and unsubstantiated report on a blog called 24hourhiphop. Not exactly the New York Times is it? And FYI other blogs reposting your post and reporting based on your post are not “other sources” still claiming something.

    2. Bullying and intimidating an innocent person. You should all be ashamed of yourselves for attacking someone who you yourselves report took no part in the offending event.

    3. For the record, publicly accusing and besmirching someone’s name and professional reputation is just as illegal, violating, and morally wrong as stealing someone’s designs. For the record, that’s called libel, slander, and defamation.

  17. Mean Girls Says:

    PS You may want to take a refresher course.

  18. Belle Says:

    Mean girls are two wrongs don’t make a right are totally right.

    Just Jared has named the real stylist and it is not Mariel Haenn.

    You just ruined her name and reputation and that is A LOT WORSE than knocking off someones design.

    What makes things so terrible is that you actually spoke to her and she told you she didn’t do it but you chose to write the post as you did.

    I hope you realize what a horrible thing you did. The irony being that you did to another innocent person exactly what you were protesting was done to your friend.

    Shame on you nadya.

  19. Nadya Says:

    Anonymous commenter, thanks for the helpful Wikipedia link on defamation. Actually, I was very careful to spend time fact-checking and presenting both sides of the story. Nowhere in the post does it state: “Mariel Haenn designed the knock-off.” Before the story went live on Coilhouse, in addition to the the 24HourHipHop mention you cite, Haenn’s name was already connected to the yellow outfit on Celebrifi, Fan2, Style Junkyard and StyleNoir. This, in conjunction with the Hollywood Life interview which names Haenn as Smith’s stylist, as well as the fact that no other stylist’s name came up in our research, gave me reasonable cause to postulate that Haenn might somehow involved. Still, I took care not to mislead our readers into believing that Haenn was the culprit. I mentioned that her name has been brought up by the media as the designer, hyperlinked to two Twitter statements in which Haenn denied any involvement, contacted Haenn for her side of the story, and reprinted her response to us verbatim. Rather than making conclusions, I informed the readers that Coilhouse would continue to investigate.

    Of course, Just Jared broke the news that the real culprit appears to be another stylist named Brea Stinson. I will be publishing a Coilhouse post on this item shortly once I have more information, confirming that Haenn was not involved in styling Smith for the AMA’s.

    Thanks again for your insight!

  20. Belle Says:

    Some fact checking! That same Hollywood Life article also says Mariel works with a partner, which you never name. Fact checking would require you to read the whole article not just the first line.

    And are you serious? Celebrifi? Style noir? You ruined someones reputation because you read something on something called celebrifi and your frind’s blog?

    Wow, Nadya, that’s even worse.

  21. Belle Says:

    Would also like to point out that, as you yourself report, celebrifi said it “was more than likely” a piece by Mariel. So even your main source did not name her as the stylist.

  22. Tequila Says:

    @Belle – No reputation was ruined though. It was perfectly acceptable to assume someone usually styled by a certain stylist was dressed by said person. All this took place within a matter of hours/days really. The assumption was clarified and the Stylist is pretty much untouched by this professionally. It’s not like there was some boycott or public crucifixion. If you feel the blogs mentioned have no real weight to them – then it’s all simply a public discussion to see what happened.

    The only demand made has been What Happened & Who Is Responsible?

    Though it should be pretty much common knowledge that stuff like this spreads via blogs way before traditional media outlets. Hell usually by the time it gets to those outlets its old hat. It’s still unresolved at this time after all & the only ones really pushing to find out what is going on are blogs – not some seasoned journalist working for an established media outlet.

  23. Nadya Says:

    Belle, thank you for your criticism and comments. You are right; Celebrifi did not specifically name Mariel as the stylist, and I took care to quote the entire line, including the words “was more than likely,” rather than merely hyperlinking to it, to make sure that it was clear to readers that my main blog source, too, was speculating. And it’s true that there are things I could’ve done to make this blog post more detailed, like hyperlinking to more sources, or mentioning Mariel’s stylist partner Rob Zangardi.

    I think we can agree on one thing: nobody wants their friends’ name to get dragged through the mud. It hurt my heart to see such a horrible yellow replica associated with Mildred on national TV, and I’m sure, if you’re friends with Mariel, it hurts you to see any negative commentary about her going around the blogosphere. I wasn’t trying to bully or scapegoat anyone in writing this post, and I’d hate for Mariel to be singled out in any way for something she didn’t do.

    I don’t want to cause anyone distress by allowing any uncertainty to remain among readers of Coilhouse about Haenn’s culpability. I’ve added an update to the top of this post, in big red letters, to let people know that Mariel Haenn was not responsible or involved in any way, and I’ll be making a new blog post that’s as prominent as this one was to let people know that JustJared has reported the identity of the culprit, reiterating that Mariel was not involved.

    Thanks again for your commentary and debate.

  24. Nadya Says:

    By the way! To clarify: Celebrifi’s actually just an aggregator for blog posts. The source was, via Celebrifi, this post at Necole Bitchtie.

  25. Natasha Says:

    Oh Louise, I feel your pain. I fell in love with that particular corset the very moment it I saw it in your Etsy shop some many months ago. I’ve always been an LS fan, but their response and behavior in this case upset me. As well as that little Etsy company who thought you wouldn’t care because you’re a “big designer”. It doesn’t matter HOW big, small, popular, unknown a company is, copying is just WRONG! (Unfortunately it occurs in HORDES on Etsy, along with copyright infringement UGH). I’ve been copied a time or two myself (I’ve been selling my octopus -Kraken- necklace for ages, though now you can get them almost anywhere) and its twice as heartbreaking when its of lower quality materials than your own work and it is what people come to recognize as the original INSTEAD of the actual original, just because the ripper’s version is the one they saw first! It’s outrageous. It’s all outrageous.
    Why isn’t anything sacred anything? Why can’t we just be original, leave original alone and create NEW originals?? Goodness knows, I sure try..

  26. Natasha Says:

    Also, Lumivalkoinen does have a point, Mil, you could turn this around and make it your bit**. You know more than ever now, that you have SWARMS of people to support you who are more than willing to mangle anyone who claims that your work is anything but the original.