Remember When Miley Cyrus Sparked Fashion Piracy?


In her 25 years, Miley Cyrus has had a rap sheet of controversy. There was the time in 2008 when a hacker found his way through the Hannah Montana star’s MySpace account, leaking a slew of suggestively posed photos of the then 15-year-old to the internet. Or a year later when she pole-danced her way through “Party in the U.S.A.” at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards—a racy move for the singer who had not yet picked up her Bangerz-era twerking. And while many other of Cyrus’ on-stage moments have certainly fueled tabloids, perhaps her biggest fashion flak happened at the 2015 Video Music Awards.

Cyrus had been appointed host of the 32nd installment of the ceremony, and throughout the night—between glittery outfit changes and a random Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift live mash-up—she left less for the imagination and more for the eye to see. The show’s big finale was a performance from Cyrus herself, and she brought out all the big guns, literally: an army of 30 drag queens (many past contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race) burlesque performers, trans activists, actors, and models catwalked behind her as the singer performed “Dooo It!” The song was from her surprise released album Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, and as the lights strobed and streamers fell from the ceilings, excitement was everywhere.

It wasn’t until after the airing that viewers noticed something off: Cyrus’ outfit—a neon-pink body suit with an oversized evil-eye nipple pastie by BCalla—nearly identically resembled a design by Australian label Discount Universe. Years before @dietprada and the commonality of fashion call-outs online, fans quickly contrasted and compared the two. When one person pointed out Cyrus had worn Discount Universe many times in the past—including her 2014 Bangerz Tour in Melbourne and Sydney—it escalated.

Discount Universe founders Cami James and Nadia Napreychikov took to social media immediately saying they were “distraught” about the outfit and the situation. And while Cyrus never acknowledged the situation directly, her then-stylist Simone Harrouche fired back: “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.”

Was it fashion plagiarism or just a shared love for Kansai Yamamoto? Overlapping inspirations is not a rare thing for fashion designers nor the creative type, and who knows how many moments like this have happened on smaller stages. Alas, the whole debacle was soon forgotten because, like Cyrus herself, perhaps some things will never be fully understood.


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