Yoko Ono is a great many things: artist, activist, musician, feminist. But I, among many others, was admittedly a little surprised when she came out with a line of clothing for Opening Ceremony based primarily on crotch grabbing. It was definitely strange, but very…well, very “Yoko.” That is, it was a little avant-garde, a little ridiculous and very unforgettable. The gist of the Yoko Ono line:


I keep hearing Michael Jackson’s “woo hoo!” exclamation over and over…

Like I said, it all feels very “Yoko.” However, this may not be the case — in fact, the line that is so very “Yoko” may actually be the brainchild of a completely different, non-Yoko person by the name of Haleh Nematzadeh. The 36-year-old Brooklyn designer and owner of Bushwick-based clothing firm Smashing Starlets is presently suing Ono for allegedly ripping off her designs.

“They took everything with no shame. They stole from me blatantly,” she said of Ono’s design team, whom she claims saw her unfinished drawings and later adopted them into their own knockoff line. According to the NY Post, there are plenty of similarities:

Nematzadeh says she met with photographers working for Opening Ceremony, a retailer that now sells Ono’s fashion line, in July hoping to get images of her Gonna Walk the Night collection in the store’s catalog.

The designer’s fetish-inspired line features nipple holes, sheer fabric and pieces adorned with handprints over the breasts and crotch.

The fotogs were supposed to meet Nematzadeh for a shoot but instead teamed up with Ono’s designers, who altered the garments into a men’s line without permission, the designer claims.

Ono says that her designs were inspired by late husband John Lennon‘s “hot body,” but Nematzadeh insists that this is a ridiculous idea: “She’s trying to put fetish in context, but since when does fetish and John Lennon go together? When you think of the Beatles, you think of doves and trees, not that.”

Aymen Aboushi, Nematzadeh’s lawyer, stated that many large, established companies copy independent designers. Remember how just recently, we saw Jeremy Scott pretty blatantly rip off skate artist Jimbo Phillips, and there have been plenty of instances were companies like Urban Outfitters have suspiciously similar clothing and jewelry to smaller, less well-known designers. As Jezebel points out, intellectual property is a difficult thing to defend when it comes to fashion. The question is: how can can the bigger companies be held responsible, and what can the smaller ones do to prevent these violations from happening?

Photo: Getty Images