Fashion writer accused of plagiarism over book proposal

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The Independent US

But what about fashion writing? Do writers take lines from others and pass them off as their own? That is the allegation directed at a former British fashion journalist, accused of borrowing, embroidering and even inventing details and incorporating them into the proposal for a hotly-sought memoir.

Women's Wear Daily online claims details included in a proposal by former Times' fashion correspondent Emily Davies, are not true. The article even asks whether the industry has its "own James Frey" in the making - a reference to the best-selling writer who admitted portions of his memoir were invented.

The article claims several incidents, including Ms Davies's having dinner with designer Donna Karan in Tokyo and attending a party for Jennifer Lopez at Donatella Versace's Italian villa, either did not happen or are inaccurately portrayed.

It also claims a meeting with three fashion industry employees in New York - including an employee of American Vogue - did not take place. Ms Davies' apparently quotes Vogue staffer Alexandra Kotur advising her how to obtain a glamorous job. "I have no idea what each day will bring," Ms Davies quotes her as saying. "One day I could be in someone's home on a photo shoot, the next night I'm talking to Minnie Driver." The article quotes a Vogue spokesperson as saying the conversation never took place and says the quote appeared to have been taken from a 1998 New York Times article.

Ms Davies's precis is not just any old book proposal. Last December Simon and Schuster and Random House's Ebury Press jointly paid a reported $900,000 (£520,000) for the rights to the proposal, provisionally entitled How to Wear Black: Adventures on Fashion's Front Line and described as "an all-access pass to the world of fashion". The publishers hoped the memoir would follow in the successful steps of recent "frock-lit" hits such as The Devil Wears Prada by Anna Wintour's former assistant,.

The article says this is not the first time allegations of using others writer's material have been directed at Ms Davies. In 2004 the Financial Times complained she had used excerpts from a shopping column by Susie Boyt so as to make it appear she had interviewed the writer.

Ms Davies was sacked last year after an investigation into her expenses' claims. She sued for false dismissal then dropped the case. The Times is pursuing legal costs.

In a statement Ms Davies said: "Women's Wear Daily [has] made extremely serious allegations about me as a journalist. The allegations are that I have plagiarised other peoples' work. There is not a shred of truth to these allegations."

Her boyfriend, Jonathan Gornall, told The Independent Ms Davies' accepted she had erred in sourcing some quotes to herself but said it was "entirely innocent". He insisted she had attended the Lopez's party - saying she was not on the guest list but had gate-crashed "as any journalist would". He insisted, also, that Ms Davies did have dinner with Ms Karan, though not necessarily in Japan and that she never suggested it had been a one-on-one occasion. "Every single point raised [by] WWD is either plain wrong or a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth. Clearly, there must be something else going on here. This is going to be a great book that someone from somewhere doesn't want us to read."