FASHION LAW: DECISION IN THE BALENCIAGA GHESQUIÈRE LAWSUIT

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Nicolas Ghesquière is certainly no stranger to the fashion world as the designer, who previously worked as an assistant to the great Jean-Paul Gaultier. He was brought on at the young age of 25 to head the Paris fashion house, Balenciaga. Most recently, Ghesquière left former employer Balenciaga for a creative director position at Louis Vuitton. Balenciaga, however, had not made his transition easy and had been working on trying to settle a bit of unfinished and unresolved business with Ghesquière.

Next month, on August 27th, a court in Paris will be making a decision in the lawsuit brought on by Balenciaga that claims Ghesquière’s  comments, alongside stylist Marie-Amélie Sauvé’s, during an interview with London-based fashion magazine, System, were harmful to its image, its parent company and its shareholders.

The lawsuit specifically highlights several quotes from the interview that dealt with Ghesquière’s career post-Balenciaga including one that reflects poorly on the company: “It was all about branding. I don’t have anything against that; actually, the thing that I’m most proud of is that it’s become a big financial entity and will continue to exist. But I began to feel as though I was sucked dry, like they wanted to steal my identity while trying to homogenize things (Fashion Times).”

Prior to leaving Balenciaga, a separation agreement was signed indicating Ghesquière was to refrain from assertions that could hurt the image of Balenciaga, Kering, and its shareholders. Thierry Lévy, counsel for Balenciaga, states that Ghesquière broke this agreement through words and statements exchanged in the interview that Lévy equated as “thunderbolts out of the blue.

Balenciaga is now seeking roughly $9.4 million in damages and pending ruling, would like the decision to be published in a variety of French fashion and business publications.


Update: Mediator Appointed in Balenciaga vs. Ghesquière Case

Just last week a mediator was appointed by the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris in the case of Balenciaga vs. Nicolas Ghesquière. The case involves negative feelings from Balenciaga pertaining to the banter exchanged between Ghesquière and Marie-Amélie Sauvé during an interview with London-based fashion magazine, System. Balenciaga claims Ghesquière’s comments were harmful to the brands image, its parent company and its shareholders. Balenciaga won’t give up without a fight and continues to seek roughly $9.2 million, at current exchange, in damages.

Among Ghesquière’s comments included in the System story include a statement declaring a loss of identity as Balenciaga began to “suck [Ghesquière] dry” while trying to regulate things.

The terms of a decision filed last week and signed by presiding judge for the case, Christian Hours, state both parties have three months to reach a “friendly” agreement through mediation. Failure to do so will result in a court ruling. Will Balenciaga and Ghesquière ultimately agree to disagree or be forced to comply with the court? Time will tell.

The mediator fees for the case as ordered by Martin Hauser of the Centre de Médiation et d’Arbitrage de Paris will cost Balenciaga $5,277 and Ghesquière and Sauve each $2,639. Lawyers for Ghesquière claimed the comments published in System did not contribute any criticism of Balenciaga.

The court has scheduled a hearing in the New Year on February 15th, 2015 to review the end result, if there is one, of the mediation.

Text reference via WWD and photo reference via My Culture Magazine

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