The Musée de la Contrefaçon or the Museum of Counterfeiting is located inside the hôtel particulier in the sixteenth Arrondissement in Paris, and if you are interested in brands, you must visit the place when in the city, rather than going for private Louvre museum tour only. Ask your Paris tour guide the directions to reach the place, which was the property of an American heiress in the 1920s. However, after being damaged in the Second World War, it became the property of Gaston-Louis Vuitton in 1950.
Later, Vuitton donated the place to UNIFAB (l’Union des Fabricants, also known as the Union of Manufacturers). UNIFAB is a French association made to protect intellectual property and commercial creations and Vuitton was the president of the association. The building is now the headquarters of UNIFAB and is a repository for many counterfeit items procured from users, the police, and the brand themselves, who recover forged items to figure out future prevention measures.
The six-room museum now holds more than five hundred pieces of counterfeit items ranging from luxury goods to daily use items to forged art. The merchandise inside the museum was collected since its opening in 1972. Almost half of the exhibits are donated while the other half is confiscated. More and more items are added to the collection constantly. You will also be able to see a “forged object of the month” display case set up inside the museum. The Musée de la Contrefaçon juxtaposes many original items near to the fake ones.
The museum says that pharmaceuticals and technology are the two most copied items are on display. However, you will also be able to find a section that is dedicated to beauty and luxury fashion knockoffs. You can find stiletto-heeled “Nike” sneakers, many Louis Vuitton like monograms, a fake Chloé Paddington bag, and many more in the fashion and beauty section. In the cosmetics section, you can find many beauty products never made or sold by the various popular brands together with misspelled fakes like “Christen Diar.” You can also find many fake perfumes that are made by omitting the defining ingredients like mandarin, musk, and violet.
As per the authorities of the museum, seventy percent of all the forgeries originate from Southeast Asia, parts of Europe (Spain, Italy, and Portugal), and the Mediterranean (Tunisia, Turkey, and Morocco). To capitalize on brand recognition and first impressions “counterfeiters spend much more time realizing the packaging than the content,” says Regis Mesali, the director of communications of the museum. Packaging is usually mimicked closely, but “there’s always a little detail that makes you realize it’s copied.”