Published January 13, 2015
An artist created a T-shirt featuring a Darfur victim carrying what appears to be a Louis Vuitton purse and a tiny dog — in a fashion resembling Paris Hilton — to "show that this is what the world is paying attention to" while thousands are dying of genocide. But the luxury handbag maker isn't having it.
Danish art student Nadia Plesner, 26, has been hit with a lawsuit by the French designer, claiming the image, also used in a poster, violates trademark law.
"I stand up for my artistic freedom to express my view of the world," she said, according to the New York Post. "Without restrictions."
On her Web site, Plesner, a member of Designers for Darfur, a group that raises money for victims of genocide in Sudan, explains that she was inspired to create the image, entitled "Simple Living," last summer.
"I felt horrified by the fact that even with the genocide and other ongoing atrocities in Darfur, Paris Hilton was the one getting all the attention," she says.
The lawsuit followed a cease-and-desist letter Plesner got from Vuitton in February.
"We cannot help noticing that the design of [your] product includes the reproduction of a bag infringing on LV's intellectual property rights," the letter reads, according to the Post.
The bag depicted in the image appears to be a Marc Jacobs-Takashi Murakami design.
Designers for Darfur founder Malcolm Harris defended the project. "She used the accessories to show that this is what the world is paying attention to," he said, according to the Post.
All profits from the T-shirt and poster are donated to Divest for Darfur, a national campaign to encourage firms to withdraw investments from companies that help fund genocide in Darfur.
Ethnic Africans in Darfur took up arms against the Arab-dominated government in 2003 to fight discrimination. More than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been displaced in the five years of fighting.
The New York Post and the Associated Press contributed to this report.