FASHION: Line for Line

Into Idlewild Airport last week flew two jets carrying the fashion world's legal tender—the first shipment of 1960 dresses from the chandeliered showrooms of Balenciaga, Balmain, Dior and other leading couturiers. Awaiting their arrival were buyers and designers from chain stores and dress manufacturers, ready to go to work producing "line for line" copies (e.g., near-perfect imitations) of the fashions.

In the past, manufacturers often pirated Parisian designs, but usually in a bits-and-pieces manner; seldom, except in the most expensive dress shops, were perfect copies sold. But in the past few years line-for-line copying has become a big multimillion-dollar business that...

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