Design Pirates Eye First Lady's Wardrobe as Treasure

Aaaarrggghhhh…. There be great fashion ideas to steal, me hearties!

Knockoff bandits beware: Four of First Lady Michelle Obama's fave designers are drawing their fashion guns and they're aiming them right at you.

Yes, while President Barack Obama may have dealt a blow to the pirates on the high seas (thanks to the U.S. Navy), Michelle Obama is attracting another kind of pirate.  Veritable fashion thieves look at Michelle Obama's wardrobe as a great, big treasure chest of fashion ideas just ready for the raiding.

Fashion's bigwigs -- as well as its smaller players -- want the stealing to stop.  Especially Narcisso Rodriguez, Jason Wu, Thakoon Panichgul and Maria Cornejo, whose fashions the First Lady has worn to inauguration balls and to meet the Queen of England, among other high-profile events. 

So the Council of Fashion Designers of America sent Rodriguez, Wu, Panichgul and Cornejo to Washington last Wednesday to reintroduce an anti-piracy bill that would make knocking off designer clothes illegal.   

Designers may seem flighty (see HBO's "Sex and the City"), but they're not dumb.  As New York Magazine put it: No one is better at getting things done in Washington than celebrities. 

Rodriguez has lobbied for a stronger copyright law before.  It never went through because legislators worried it would allow lawsuits to overrun the industry and stifle creative freedom, New York Mag reported.  

For minor-league designers like Cornejo, who charges less than $1,000 per dress, the bill can't get passed soon enough.  

"The only way we can compete is with our ideas. That's like my bank," Cornejo told The Washington Post. "So when someone steals my idea, it's like they've put their hand in my bank. They're taking ideas out of my head."

Sounds painful. 

But what about the rest of us, those whose fashion budget is limited to designer knockoffs at H&M or Zara?  Have  no fear. 

Like most things in Congress, the bill's currently stuck in the middle of political battles.  And while there's a chance the First Lady's name pull could bring the legislation to the fore, it's also likely the bill will stay adrift. 

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