Stella McCartney's Resort 2016 collection features botanical prints, button-down shirts re-imagined as sarongs, and two collar necklaces, each made of a single rod of acrylic tied into a knot at the middle.
Houstonian Michelle Yue, who designs the jewelry line Nonhuman, first saw the necklaces after a friend texted her a picture from the collection's printed lookbook. "She said 'Is this your piece?'," says Yue. "...I was so shocked I didn't know what to do."
Yue launched Nonhuman in 2014, inspired by classic design reshaped by futuristic elements. Her collection is crafted entirely from smooth, transparent lucite, including one piece that has the same shape, style and center knot as the version by Stella McCartney. But Yue says she's been selling the design for over a year.
Nonhuman is still a small brand, but Yue's designs have begun to get attention; the jewelry was featured in the popular "Texas Design Now" exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston this summer, and Yue's work is sold online and available locally at Catacomb HTX. Though her personal social media following is relatively small, she thinks it's possible someone saw her work on one of the socialites or style-setters who have purchased her necklaces and been photographed wearing them.
"I don't have a lot of followers personally, but it's been worn by a girl in LA with 40,000 followers, and girls I know wear them around New York. I've gotten emails from stores in San Francisco, for example, where literally someone saw it on a customer that walked in," says Yue.
Yue says she's considering legal action about a possible copyright violation.
It's possible, of course, that the Stella McCartney design is just a coincidence—as a commenter on Reddit points out, both knots and lucite are very trendy at the moment. A Google search pulls up another designer based in Australia with a similar Lucite design, too. But Yue wouldn't be the first designer to see her work appropriated by a larger brand. Fast-fashion retailers like NastyGal, Forever 21, and Urban Outfitters have repeatedly been accused of copying the work of emerging jewelry designers.
Representatives for Stella McCartney were not available for comment; we'll update the story if we hear back from them.