Faire un copier-coller de

I love to cruise the virtual pages of 1stdibs to drool over vintage clothing, fabulous jewelry, and exquisite furniture. I then save all my favorites on Pinterest. Why, I’m not sure. Nonetheless, my browsing hurts no one and I occasionally learn a thing or two. The other day, I came across a beautiful 50s dress by Suzy Perette, featuring Dior’s signature New Look tiny waist and full skirt. I’d never heard of this French-sounding designer so I launched a little investigation.

There was no person named Suzy Perette. It was an American company in the 50s through early 70s that copied the Paris runway looks line-for-line and reproduced them at a much more reasonable cost. The designer behind the most successful Perette looks was Victor Costa. Costa attended L’École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and brought French couture know-how back to the States with him. His ability to remember the minutest detail of what he saw at fashion shows allowed him to create knock-offs for the burgeoning American middle-class woman. A French-sounding name was the finishing touch to pass off the garment as high-fashion.

Today’s expression, faire un copier-coller de (fair uhn cop-e-ay collay duh) means “to copy and paste” something. As a teacher, this is something I regrettably sometimes see in student essays (why do they think I won’t notice?), but it’s probably even more common in the fashion world where one just says “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” After all, both Madame Grès and Pierre Balmain were showing the New Look silhouette before Dior’s designs picked up the catchy label. Nonetheless, I thought the Suzy Perette fashions were quite beautiful, even if they were imitations. If you see one in a vintage shop today, expect to pay a lot more than the $20 – $60 originally charged. On 1stdibs, the vintage Suzy Perette dresses were between $400 and $700.

The Dictionary of Fashion History

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About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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