Vintage designs are an increasing source of inspiration for modern designers. For example, this season, as reported in Vogue, the Eighties is a strong trend seen in a number of designer collections including Moschino, Balmain, Giles, Stella McCartney, Julien Macdonald and Gucci.
Fashionista notes that while, it is usually safe for designers to take inspiration from vintage designs that are sufficiently old that any relevant protection has expired (10-15 years for UK unregistered designs or 25 years for copyright works exploited by an industrial process) for well-known prints, it is conceivable that the original designer achieved a significant reputation in a particular design which could give rise to protection under the law of passing-off, if it led consumers to think there had been a collaboration between the retailer and the original designer, such as Celia Birtwell's recent collections for TopShop.
P.S. Those that currently supply M&S face some tough negotiations ahead. As Fashionista was writing this post, Drapers reported that M&S is looking to renegotiate terms with its European, South American and Far East suppliers in a bid to compensate for the weak sterling. For once, there is an advantage to being British!