Face-off! Leeds stylist wins epic T-shirt rip-off row

Stylist Diablo aka Rose, Melanie Armsden28, of Leeds, has won a legal battle to stop t-shirts being sold with her face on. She only found out hundreds of them had been made after a friend sent her a picture of one. After getting the unsold stock, she's now selling them for charity. (Picture: James Hardisty)

Stylist Diablo aka Rose, Melanie Armsden28, of Leeds, has won a legal battle to stop t-shirts being sold with her face on. She only found out hundreds of them had been made after a friend sent her a picture of one. After getting the unsold stock, she's now selling them for charity. (Picture: James Hardisty)

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As a professional stylist, Melanie Armsden knows better than most the importance of an eye-catching look.

But when the young businesswoman posted a striking image of herself online, little did she expect that it would end up appearing on hundreds of T-shirts without her permission.

Melanie Armsden has won a legal battle to stop t-shirts being sold with her face on.

Melanie Armsden has won a legal battle to stop t-shirts being sold with her face on.

The 28-year-old, who runs Le Keux vintage hair and make-up salon in Leeds city centre, has spoken of her shock after a lengthy legal battle to stop an online clothing company selling the garments, which show her sporting sunglasses and a 1950s look.

After successfully arguing that the T-shirts breached her copyright, Miss Armsden, who is better known by her pseudonym Diablo Rose, has managed to acquire more than 250 that had yet to be sold.

Now she’s offering people the chance to buy them from her directly – to raise money for a children’s charity.

She said: “After the case was settled I decided that rather than the tees just being destroyed, which is usually the case, I could put them to much better use myself.”

Miss Armsden, who regularly posts pictures online of hairstyles that she has created, first found out what had happened after being sent a picture of the T-shirt by a former customer.

She said: “She said it reminded her of me and I was looking at it thinking, ‘that is me!’.

“It took me totally off guard. I had to look at my pictures just to make sure I wasn’t getting confused, but there was absolutely no doubt.

“Quite a lot of people have said that I should take it as a compliment, but when I first found out it was really quite shocking.

“The idea that I could have been walking through town and seen someone wearing a T-shirt with my face on is pretty weird.”

After making inquiries with Shop Direct, the company which was selling the T-shirts, Miss Armsden, who lives in Leeds city centre, discovered they had been made by a manufacturer in India.

She sought advice from a legal expert and – in a case similar to that launched by pop star Rhianna against a high street retailer – threatened to sue the overseas company for breach of copyright.

“I had all the evidence that I was the copyright owner and that they had produced the T-shirt without my authorisation,” she said.

“In the end it was a relatively simple case to prove.”

Shop Direct, which said it had bought the T-shirts in good faith, removed the T-shirts from sale and handed over the remaining stock of 267 to Miss Armsden. She is now selling the T-shirts for £10 to raise cash for the Little Princess Trust, which provides real hair wigs for children who have lost hair during cancer treatment or because of a genetic condition.

She said: “I had been aware of the charity before and it fits in with the sort of thing I do. It’s a really good cause and I hope I can do some good.”

A Shop Direct spokesperson said: “We were very concerned to learn that there was an issue with some T-shirts being sold on our websites, as we take matters of this nature very seriously.

“We bought the items in good faith and as soon as the issue was brought to our attention we immediately removed them from sale.

“The remaining stock was returned to Diablo Rose and it’s great news that she is using them to raise money for charity.

“We are grateful to her for bringing the matter to our attention and we’re very glad to hear that she managed to reach a satisfactory resolution with the manufacturer.”

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