Erica Simone is a French photographer who recently published a Not Exactly Safe for Work photo collection called Nue York: Self-Portraits of a Bare Urban Citizen, in which she does average daily New York City things totally nude — jogging, riding the subway, riding a motorcycle, buying a hot dog, and so on. Her show ran from April 14 through April 28 at the Dash Gallery, and got, as she wrote us, “quite an extensive amount of press in May/April.” We even covered it on this blog. Now Simone has gotten in touch to let us know that Zappos may be ripping her off in a campaign that looks kind of a lot like at least one of her photos, in so much as it is of a naked lady, running. (Note that in the original photo of Simone running, she does not have her lady parts hidden with any bars, much less ones that advertise clothing.) Simone writes of Zappos, “Their campaign is scheduled to fully run in August. The copyright issue is significant and a lawsuit may result from it.”
Here’s one of the Zappos ads in question:
We’re almost always on the side of the little guy in situations like these — take, for instance, Forever21’s beef with satire site WTForever21 or Urban Outfitters seemingly grabbing local artists’ designs. But, at the same time, and as every blogger knows, sometimes ideas can happen simultaneously among different people. And though we feel Simone’s pain, can you really own “being naked and doing everyday things”? If so, what does that mean for those Bluefly ads, which go all the way back to 2005? Or…for our lovely topless lady of the Bowery, for that matter?
And, yet, when we look at the catalog of Zappos ads, which also include riding a Vespa and hailing a cab, all shot in Manhattan locations, there does seem to be a certain similarity. Although Simone’s photos are prettier, and more authentic: During the Zappos shoot, reports the New York Times, “the models wore pasties and thongs or tiny bikinis, which were edited out later.”
We’ve contacted Zappos for comment.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 29, 2011