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Catwalk Catfight

The fashion industry is a breeding ground for fiery and passionate exchanges that can escalate into full-blown legal battles. Some of the world’s major fashion houses are currently embroiled in catfights, either behind the scenes or in public court rooms. The dramas that unfold are worthy of a story line in The Bold and the Beautiful.

Yves Saint Laurent versus Christian Louboutin

In an 18-month battle of the killer heels, both sides claimed victory. Christian Louboutin was granted a US patent for his famous red soles and in 2011 sued Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) for using red soles on the bottom of its heels. The claim was $1 million but the District Court Judge questioned the legitimacy of the trademark. The YSL legal team made a statement to the New York Times that “No designer should be able to monopolise a color in fashion.”

So Louboutin appealed to the Federal Court and won the right to trademark red soles – except when the entire shoe is red. YSL claimed victory as it can now make monochromatic shoes in every colour (including red), and Louboutin can continue to manufacture its trade-marked red flash.

LVMH versus

The world’s largest luxury fashion house LVMH has slowly been acquiring a larger stake in family-owned company Hermès. CEO of Hermès, Patrick Thomas, clearly perturbed, has described the move in this way – “If you want to seduce a beautiful woman, you don’t start by raping her from behind.”

LVMH owns many luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs and Moet et Chandon. Hermès is the second most valuable luxury brand in the world and is known best for leather goods and scarves. It is an obvious take-over opportunity for LVMH, but Hermès will not relinquish control without a fight. Stay tuned.


Bovrisse versus Prada and Prada versus Bovrisse

A former Prada Japan employee, Rina Bovrisse, filed a lawsuit in 2010 against Prada claiming discrimination on the basis of appearance. The Japan Times reported “that in May last year Prada Japan CEO Davide Sesia asked her to “eliminate” about 15 shop managers and assistant managers whom he described as ugly, and senior human resources manager Hiroyuki Takahashi then told her last September that Sesia thought she needed to lose weight and he did not want people from Italy to see her because he was embarrassed by her appearance.”

Bovrisse lost her case in a Tokyo district court after the judge ruled the alleged discrimination was “acceptable for a luxury fashion label.” Now Prada is countersuing for USD $780,000 claiming Bovrisse’s claims were false and damaging to the brand. Bovrisse is building an online petition and has called upon the United Nations to assist her.


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