This week in fashion feuds: Balenciaga is suing former designer Nicolas Ghesquière for $7 million euro (that's $9.2 million US dollars at the current exchange rate), for making "harmful" comments about the brand. WWD reports that the lawsuit will continue in court, with the date set for October 15th.
Ghesquière's "harmful" comments were expressed during an interview last spring, following the November decision that he and the fashion house would "end their working relationship," shortly after which he was replaced by Alexander Wang.
The interview in question, published in the London-based fashion magazine System (which included the work of Ghesquière's loyal stylist Marie-Amélie Sauvé, who is also named in the suit), included such disgruntled anecdotes as:
Over the last two or three years it became one frustration after another ... There was no one helping me on the business side ... They wanted to open up a load of stores but in really mediocre spaces, where people weren’t aware of the brand ... There wasn't really any direction ... I began to feel as though I was sucked dry, like they wanted to steal my identity while trying to homogenize things ...
Balenciaga's lawyer, Thierry Lévy, claims that Ghesquière's vitriol constitutes a breach of contract insofar as it is damaging to Balenciaga's reputation in a decidedly sensitive industry. “In general, the parties, knowing the hypersensitivity of the fashion industry to changes in creative direction, were forbidden from commenting on the break in order to avoid any detrimental effect on their economic interests or their image," he said in a phone interview with WWD.
If Balenciaga is fully victorious in their claim, the judgement will be published in a variety of French fashion and business magazines, which, we suppose, fits quite well with the whole public-shaming in a sensitive industry thing. Revenge is a dish best served in court.
To get an idea of what Ghesquière and his ex-house have to look forward to, here are some of the crazier fashion battles of recent years:
Kanye West vs. PETA
Kanye West really doesn't know how to hold his tongue, and he also really loves wear fur. So it's safe to say that he and PETA are not on good terms. In one of his songs he raps: "Tell PETA my mink draggin' on the floor." PETA fired back, with senior vice president Dan Matthews saying, "What's draggin' on the floor is Kanye's reputation as a man with no empathy for animals or human beings." Harsh.
Benetton's "Unhate" Campaign
In November 2011, the United Colors of Benetton <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/11/jay-z-occupy-wall-street-t-shirts_n_1088132.html" target="_blank">released photoshopped images of world leaders making out</a> to promote the idea of "unhate." Here is the Pope and al-Tayeb kissing. Other shots included President Obama kissing Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Abbas kissing Benjamin Natanyahu. Alessandro Benetton, the deputy chairman of the company, released the following statement: "The images are very strong, but we have to send a strong message. We are not wanting to be disrespectful of the leaders ... we consider them "conception figures" making a statement of brotherhood with a kiss."
Tory Burch vs. Chris Burch and C. Wonder
It's sticky when you divorce a guy and he decides to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/18/first-photos-tory-burchs-_n_1017979.html" target="_blank">use your ideas to open up his own store</a>. That's what Chris Burch allegedly did with C. Wonder in 2012, a retail concept that had a very similar tone and product offering to Tory's initial brand. Surprisingly, Chris was planning on suing Tory for breach of contract and tortious interference, but instead Tory filed counterclaims accusing Chris of withholding documents that indicate he stole Tory's ideas.
Coco Chanel vs. Elsa Schiaparelli
The iconic Chanel was apparently quite the tormentor. In fact, one of her victims was fellow designer, Elsa Schiaparelli. Chanel has been noted as saying Schiaparelli was just "that Italian artist who makes clothes." As the story goes, she also once "accidentally" pushed Schiaparelli into a candle arrangement and set her on fire! Ouch.
Vogue Netherlands' Black Face Spread
Vogue Netherlands' May 2013 issue features this "Heritage Heroes" editorial. They<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/17/vogue-netherlands-blackface-shoot-controversy_n_3101059.html?utm_hp_ref=style&ir=Style#slide=2327193" target="_blank"> decided to take white models and paint their faces black</a> and put wigs on them that evoke African-American hair. Damian Bao expresses our opinion perfectly. Why couldn't they have used models of a different ethnicity instead of offensively slathering a model in makeup?
Hedi Slimane vs. Cathy Horyn
You're bound to get hate when you're the New York Times fashion critic. At Spring 2013 Fashion Week, designers pushed back after Horyn critiqued their collections. Oscar de la Renta compared her to a "stale 3-day old hamburger," and Lady Gaga even rapped about how much she doesn't like the critic. Perhaps the strongest shun was from Hedi Slimane, who was premiering his first collection with YSL and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/02/hedi-slimane-twitter-fight-cathy-horyn-new-york-times_n_1933884.html" target="_blank">banned Horyn from attending the show</a>! Horyn claims Slimane is holding a grudge from five years ago and Slimane responded by creating a Twitter graphic with the title, "My Own Times."
Lynn Tesaro's Slap
Tesaro, the PR rep for Zac Posen, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/09/lynn-tesoro-fashion-week-slap-marie-jose-susskind-jalou_n_2100596.html" target="_blank">was slapped by Marie-José Susskind-Jalou</a>, president of Jalou publishing house, at New York Fashion Week in 2013 right before the Posen show. The tiff was over a lack of seating, with Susskind-Jalou and her daughters confronting Tesoro angrily when they were left without seats for the show. As one of the daughters said afterwards, "Now you know you don’t f--k with French people."
Roberto Cavalli vs. Anna Wintour
In April 2012, Cavalli was asked by La Repubblica what advice he would give to young fashion designers and he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/robert-cavalli-anna-wintour-comment_n_1435517.html" target="_blank">dared to cross the great and powerful Wintour</a>. He said, "Just look at American fashion, which is almost fashion. It's terrible and you almost can't even look at it, but it has been driven by a great journalist, Anna Wintour, who wants all women to be like her and to dress the way she does."
Harvey Nichols' Crotch-Wetting Campaign
The tagline was, "Try to contain your excitement," in this Harvey Nichols Summer 2012 sale campaign. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/06/08/harvey-nichols-advert-features-models-wetting-themselves-in-excitement-over-sale-_n_1580443.html" target="_blank">Responding to accusations that the ad was off-putting and yucky, a Harvey Nichols spokesperson said</a>, "In humorous reaction to the (often-irrational) excitement sale time engenders, we have developed this campaign to capture this near-fanatical spirit, because let's face it, the thought of picking up brands at up to 70% off is enough to excite and overwhelm even the most composed shopper in us all."
Andrej Pejic's Dossier Cover
Barnes and Noble initially <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/16/dossier-andrej-pejic-cover-censored_n_862424.html" target="_blank">censored this cover of Dossier</a> because it featured androgynous male model Pejic taking off a shirt. The backlash against Barnes and Noble came shortly thereafter.
The Birkin Burning
Tyler Shields, the photographer with a knack for controversy, was caught in a fashion scandal when he took photos of Francesca Eastwood, a model (and Clint's daughter), and her <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/29/francesca-eastwood-birkin-burning-tyler-shields_n_1553413.html" target="_blank">burning red Crocodile Birkin bag being destroyed by fire and a chainsaw</a>.
Topshop's Really Thin Model
In July 2011, super-skinny model <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/19/codie-young-topshop-skinny-model_n_902365.html" target="_blank">Codie Young received backlash over photos she took for Topshop</a>. The Daily Mail called her body in the pictures "painfully thin" and said she had a "gaunt face and a skeletal frame." Topshop ultimately pulled the picture and Young responded to the comments saying, "I am very happy with my body and how I look because its apart of who I am! Throughout my entire childhood I was called anorexic and people would ask if I was bulimic. And it was really hard sometimes for me to deal with as I have always been this way."
10-Year-Old Thylane Loubry Blondeau Raises Eyebrows
This young model <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/04/thylane-blondeau-10-year-old-model_n_918066.html" target="_blank">sparked controversy after she posed for this Vogue Paris shoot in 2011</a> when she was just ten years old. She was shown in various provocative poses that people felt were a little too mature for her tender age.
Vogue Italia's Plus-Size Model Photo Shoot
In June 2011, Vogue Italia embraced curves and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/03/vogue-italia-plus-size_n_870739.html" target="_blank">defied boundaries</a> in terms of high-fashion shoots.
Vogue Italia's Slave Earrings
Only two months later, Vogue Italia was slammed by many, including model Iman, for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/vogue-italia-slave-earrings" target="_blank">featuring "Slave Earrings" in their "Shop The Trend" section on their website</a>. After the backlash, they changed the name to "Ethnic Earrings."
Karlie Kloss' Nude Spread for Vogue Italia
Then, in December of the same year, Vogue Italia <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/01/karlie-kloss-nude_n_1122881.html" target="_blank">decided to feature a photo shoot of it-model Karlie Kloss</a>. The only problem was that the magazine was accused of photoshopping Kloss' already svelte figure even thinner. Whether it was Photoshop or not, the magazine decided to pul the image seen to the left off their website, along with the caption, "The (new) Body."
Jay-Z's "Occupy All Streets" Shirts
In support of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, Jay-Z's clothing line, Rocawear,<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/11/jay-z-occupy-wall-street-t-shirts_n_1088132.html" target="_blank"> released t-shirts in 2011 that said, "Occupy All Streets."</a> People were quick to fire back with criticism insisting that Jay and his team were trying to monopolize off of the protestors since the company was not donating any of the proceeds to the cause.
Marc Jacobs vs. Kidult
This one is really unique. In May 2012, the Marc Jacobs store on Mercer Street in New York City <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/14/marc-jacobs-graffiti-art-kidult-t-shirts_n_1515697.html" target="_blank">discovered that street-artist Kidult had tagged the store with the word "ART". </a> Jacobs responded by using the tag as inspiration for a $689 limited-edition t-shirt emblazoned with a photo of the tag.
Gucci vs. Guess
After years of battling over who gets the right to use the very similar logo design, in May 2012, a judge <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/21/gucci-lawsuit-gucci-wins-_n_1534491.html#s824190&title=Gucci" target="_blank"> ruled that Guess owed Gucci $4.66 million dollars</a> in damages from using its unauthorized trademark "G" logo.
John Galliano's Anti-Semitic Remarks
In February 2011, designer John Galliano was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/28/galliano-hitler-racist-rant-arrest_n_828955.html" target="_blank">heard on the record saying to people at a Parisian café</a>, "I love Hitler," and "People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be f-cking gassed." Dior fired him as a designer the next day and then he checked into rehab. He's slowly been working his way back into the industry's good graces ever since.
Christian Louboutin vs. Yves St. Laurent
It was the battle of the red soles. In April 2011, Christian Louboutin sued YSL for $1 million in damages for putting red soles on the bottom of their shoes, with Louboutin claiming that the red sole had been trademarked to their company in 2008. The dispute was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/christian-louboutin-vs-ysl-lawsuit-over_n_1970511.html" target="_blank">settled in October 2012</a> when the court ruled that YSL could make monochromatic red shoes with red soles but still gave Louboutin trademark protection over the red sole alone.
Jenna Lyons Paints Her Son's Toenails
In an online feature for J.Crew in 2011, the creative director of the brand was shown <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/12/fox-news-jcrew-jenna-lyons-_n_848152.html" target="_blank">polishing her young son's toenails pink</a>. What seemed to a cute, well-meaning photo received extreme criticism from "experts," most notably Dr. Keith Ablow who said, "This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity."
Natasha Poly vs. Jessica Hart
Poly (seen to the left) got into a brawl with fellow model, Jessica Hart, at Double Seven, a New York City nightclub. Hart apparently attacked Poly and screamed to her that her husband (Peter Bakker) was a "loser."
Nivea's "Re-Civilize Yourself" Ad
Nivea <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/18/nivea-ad-racist_n_930501.html" target="_blank">received backlash over this ad</a>, with critics citing the decision to pair an African-American model with the phrase "re-civilize" as insensitive and racist
Urban Outfitters' Diss to Mexico
"New Mexico, Cleaner than Regular Mexico" t-shirts didn't go over well when released in 2005. Nice job, Urban Outfitters.
Urban Outfitters' Other Mexico Diss
In January 2013, Urban Outfitters <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/urban-outfitters-controversy-walmart-shirt_n_2404016.html" target="_blank">stirred controversy when it decided to sell a vintage-looking Walmart work shirt </a>with the name "Juan" on it. Many Latinos felt the clothing company was being "racist and classist."
Urban Outfitters Targets Teens With Alcohol?
Urban Outfitters thought it was a good idea to sell this shirt to its young demographic (with a lot of them being younger than 21).
Urban Outfitters References The Holocaust?
The popular retailer got in trouble for its "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/20/urban-outfitters-jewish-star-tshirt_n_1441731.html" target="_hplink">Jewish Star</a>" t-shirt, that many thought made light of the Holocaust.
JC Penney's Degrading Shirts
In 2011, JC Penney <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/31/jc-penneys-girls-shirt_n_943349.html" target="_blank">released these shirts targeted towards middle-school girls</a> that read "I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me" and "Allergic to Algebra." Critics attacked JC Penney, saying the store was sending a bad message to young girls by telling them that it's impossible to be both pretty <em>and</em> smart. The company immediately regretted the decision and sent out a statement saying, "We agree that the 'Too pretty' t-shirt does not deliver an appropriate message, and we have immediately discontinued its sale."
Urban Outfitters' Bad Message to Girls
In 2010, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/03/eat-less-urban-outfitters_n_598904.html" target="_hplink">"Eat Less"</a> t-shirts weren't well received by, well, most people.
Victoria's Secret's Asian Stereotyping
As part of the brand's "Far East" collection, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/24/victorias-secret-geisha-outfit-photos_n_1909366.html" target="_blank">"Sexy Little Geisha"</a> outfit came complete with a removable obi belt.
Abercrombie & Fitch's Asian Caricatures
In 2002, Asian caricature t-shirts <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/ABERCROMBIE-GLITCH-Asian-Americans-rip-2850702.php" target="_hplink">caused outrage in California.</a>
Nike's St. Patrick's Day Sneakers
Nike's St. Patrick's Day-themed SB Dunk Low <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/nike-black-and-tan_n_1344197.html" target="_hplink">"Black and Tan"</a> sneakers incited outrage from the Irish community. Turns out Nike didn't realize that "Black and Tan" or "Tan" is still a pejorative term for the British in Ireland. Nike followed up with an apology.
Urban Outfitters Mocks the Irish
Some Irish groups were not pleased with this "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/urban-outfitters-st-patricks-day-clothes-_n_1313242.html" target="_hplink">Irish Yoga</a>" trucker hat that mocked their culture.
Urban Outfitters Dumbs Down St. Patrick's Day
"<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/urban-outfitters-st-patricks-day-clothes-_n_1313242.html" target="_hplink">Truly Madly Deeply Kiss Me</a>" t-shirt offended Irish groups.
Urban Outfitters' Second Irish Dig
Ditto to this "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/urban-outfitters-st-patricks-day-clothes-_n_1313242.html" target="_hplink">Truly Madly Deeply Irish Drunk"</a> scoop tank. Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), along with members of the Congressional Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs, quickly demanded that Urban Outfitters stop selling the Irish-themed products.
Adidas' Shackle Shoes
These Jeremy Scott x adidas Roundhouse Mid "Handcuffs," or "shackle," sneakers <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/18/adidas-shackle-sneakers-controversy_n_1605661.html" target="_blank">caused outrage</a> when people connected the shackle imagery to slavery.
Taco Cid "How to Catch an Illegal Immigrant" Shirt
This <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/09/how-to-catch-an-illegal-immigrant-taco-cid_n_2439294.html">"How to catch an illegal immigrant" shirt</a> was seen as being pretty in-your-face racist.
Fahad's "Cuntier" Hats
These "Cuntier" hats <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/12/cartier-cuntier-hats_n_2861513.html?utm_hp_ref=style&ir=Style">spoofed the Cartier logo</a>... with a less-than-palatable term.
Clean and Dry Intimate Wash
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/12/vagina-bleaching-ad_n_1420825.html" target="_hplink">Skin-lightening wash</a> targets consumers with dark colored privates.