This morning I attended a Fashion Week event, put on by the Fashion Law Institute in New York City. In many ways it was like any other show. Models, dressed in tiny floral bikinis and metallic vests, posed in the center of the room, while viewers sipped champagne and snapped photos. But this event was celebrating something more than new designs and creativity; it was applauding the progress the Fashion Law Institute has made in protecting the legal rights of both models and designers.
I spoke to Doreen Small, a stylish, enthusiastic professor at the Institute, who is from the Lower East Side, and “as Jewish as they come.” Wearing a silky white dress and black glasses lined with gemstones, she is both a fashion guru and a lawyer. The Institute is an organization within Fordham University School of Law that offers six or seven courses to law school students who want to work in the fashion industry. “It’s not a monolithic body of law,” said Small. “You need to know about intellectual property, copyrights trademarks, right of publicity, counterfeiting issues, sponsorships, endorsement issues, real estate issues, tax, labeling, advertising, modeling and immigration.”