Miley Cyrus during her performance of “Dooo It” on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images
Miley Cyrus wore 11 different outfits during MTV’s two-hour broadcast of the 2015 Video Music Awards, each revealing varying degrees of skin and fluctuating levels of insanity. With the help of her stylist, Simone Harrouche, the pair created a fashion narrative from the moment Cyrus stepped out onto the red carpet in a custom Versace ensemble made of chandelier strands and silver suspenders. From there, a custom Henry Holland pink latex dress paid homage to her newly released single “Dooo It,” and later, she wore another custom look created by Harouche and designer Brad Callahan, professionally known as BCalla, to perform the debut song off her new album Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz. On Monday morning, that look had some calling sartorial stealing.
Australian brand Discount Universe is accusing Harrouche and BCalla of knocking off their distinctive designs. After fans of the brand started complaining on social media, Cami James and Nadia Napreychikov, its Melbourne-based designers posted this note to Instagram:
“We are obviously distraught, and this couldn’t have come at a worse time as we are on out official last day of making the new collection, so we are trying our best to rise above and stay focused. We’ve kept our mouths closed about a lot of things in the past, but the one thing you can’t take and get away with is someone’s identity.”
James and Napreychikov create kitschy clothes with lots of sequins, bold words, emoji faces, and other symbols including middle fingers, money signs, and cacti. Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Rita Ora, and even Cyrus are fans. Signatures of the brand, which they claim to have trademarked, are the exaggerated evil eye and oversized lips baring teeth in need of braces. Cyrus’ outfit, a one legged glitter leotard with neon colorblocking, featured similar shapes. Over her right breast, for example, was a wide eye with a blue iris and triangle eyelashes, while her left side was covered with vertical red puckering lips.
When reached for comment, Harrouche called the whole thing “very sad.” The stylist says that Discount Universe wasn’t even a reference point when she and BCalla started mapping out the looks. The young designer’s dressed celebrities like Lady Gaga and Azealia Banks and Harrouche tells Yahoo Style that they were inspired by Salvador Dali’s surrealist costumes, Kansai Yamamoto’s use of faces and designs from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and, most importantly, Cyrus’ own love of funny faces, mouths, and especially tongues. The results of their design collaboration didn’t just appear on the host, but the 31 backup dancers too, all famous drag queens from former seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Cyrus’ favorite TV show.
“It’s very sad that people need to use Miley’s amazing performance as an opportunity to create press for themselves, when they had nothing to do with the creative process,” Harrouche tells Yahoo Style. “It’s unfortunate that they’re taking away from this young designer’s opportunity to make something special for Miley.” She adds not only does it distract from BCalla’s accomplishment, it also diverts attention from Cyrus and her intention surrounding what the performance should mean and say.