1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: Balmain embellished flag-print silk tank
net-a-porter.com
Balmain's embellished flag-print silk tank is sold out on most sites.
By
TODAY.com
updated 4/25/2011 12:22:46 PM ET 2011-04-25T16:22:46

A tank top designed to look like a ripped, burned and tattered American flag is a hot seller this spring.

And the $1,515 price tag isn’t the only thing kicking up controversy.

The trashed tank, from French design house Balmain, is besieged with holes that look like cigarette burns and is held together at its open sides with safety pins. The item has been so popular that knockoff versions have been sported by celebs, including Kesha and Kate Bosworth, at the fashion-forward Coachella music festival.

Balmain is known for shock-inducing styles, including a simple ripped-up tee from last spring that flew off shelves despite its cost, a jaw-dropping $1,625.

Slideshow: Ooh la odd! Crazy couture

The flag top sold out within minutes on e-commerce site Net-a-Porter, according to the New York Post. But outside the fashion world, folks are taking offense. The Post quoted retired Army soldier George Alatzas, who runs flag activism website "It's All About the Flag," who said, "Our flag has witnessed many sacrifices. It is the glue that holds our patriotism together. Shame on those who defile it in any way."

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While some believe the trashed tank is a fashion (and patriotic) faux pas, there’s no law against wearing a flag print. The U.S. Flag Code, a federal law about the proper use of Old Glory, states that the flag should never be worn — but that’s only if the garment is made from an actual U.S. flag.

In the instance of the Balmain tank, flag experts chalk the kooky couture up to artistic expression.

Slideshow: Wackiest Fashion Week styles

“There’s no breach of flag etiquette about wearing an article of clothing that happens to be red, white and blue, and that appears like a flag that might be tattered,” said Marty Callaghan, spokesman for the American Legion. The organization is lobbying for an amendment to the Constitution that would protect the flag from desecration.

“Some people think these items are in bad taste, but there’s nothing we can do or can’t do to urge the manufacturer to halt sales of these items,” Callaghan said. “We have no issue with these fashion statements.”

Flag fashion has been a celebrity favorite for decades, from Axl Rose’s starred-and-striped onstage shorts in the ’90s to Lady Gaga’s flag-kini in her “Telephone” video.

Slideshow: Fashion gone Gaga

“In my opinion, anyone who has a negative political opinion about this tank is putting way too much thought into it,” said image director and fashion industry veteran Alexander Allen. “If someone doesn't like America, or the American flag, I truly don't believe they would wear any American paraphernalia.”

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Vote: Is this ripped-up flag tank top fashionable or a faux pas?

Photos: Funky footwear

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  1. Funky footwear

    Talk about bananas. Forward-thinking Israeli footwear designer Kobi Levi, 35, takes inspiration from furniture, fruit and even dogs. Take a look at his wild and creative wearable art.

    Left: Titled "Banana slip," these sculpted shoes made from leather are meant to be humorous with a unique point of view on footwear. (Lilit Azoulay / kobilevidesign.blogspot.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Chewing gum

    Designer Kobi Levi worked in footwear in Italy, China, Israel and Brazil before designing his own line of creative shoes. His line is handmade and "absolutely" wearable. (Lilit Azoulay / kobilevidesign.blogspot.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Dog

    "People seem to love the humorous designs," said footwear designer Kobi Levi. "It appeals to a lot of people, from kids to adults, from people that want to wear it or artists and designers who look at it from another point of view. I like the fact that the designs are 'communicating.'" (Lilit Azoulay / kobilevidesign.blogspot.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Miao

    "These artistic shoe creations are my own 'design language,'" said Levi. "This is my humorous approach to shoe design." (Lilit Azoulay / kobilevidesign.blogspot.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. XXX Pump

    Footwear designer Kobi Levi gets inspired from a multitude of objects and ideas he comes across.

    "Inspiration can come out of nowhere, from an image that pops up in my mind and I decide to explore it, or I choose a theme/concept and design with related images," said Levi. (Lilit Azoulay / kobilevidesign.blogspot.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Tulip

    Most of Kobi Levi's inspirations are from outside the shoe industry, giving the footwear "an extreme transformation," said Levi. (Lilit Azoulay / kobilevidesign.blogspot.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Sling-shot

    When it comes to styles he prefers, Kobi says he likes traditional designs as well as contemporary and unconventional. His favorite designers include Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood. (Lilit Azoulay / kobilevidesign.blogspot.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Market

    "In my artistic footwear design, the shoe is my canvas," explained Kobi Levy. (Lilit Azoulay / kobilevidesign.blogspot.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Market trolly

    Footwear designer Kobi Levi aims to create wearable shoe sculpture that is "alive." (Lilit Azoulay / kobilevidesign.blogspot.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Tongue

    Who would Kobi like to see don his designs? He'd prefer someone creative, like Lady Gaga or Madonna.

    "They experiment and change their image a lot and they do not stay within conventional boundaries," Kobi said. "It could be very interesting to collaborate with a pop-star or an artistic video/photo shoot."

    For more great designs, visit kobilevidesign.blogspot.com (Lilit Azoulay / kobilevidesign.blogspot.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
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  2. Editor's note:
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  3. Editor's note:
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  1. Lilit Azoulay / kobilevidesign.blogspot.com
    Above: Slideshow (10) Funky footwear
  2. Image:
    Toru Yamanaka / AFP - Getty Images
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