The lawsuit involving Balenciaga and their former head designer, Nicolas Ghesquière, is moving from the courtroom to mediation. The French court was going to originally hand down its decision today, but at the suggestion of the president of the Tribunal de Grande Instance, the parties have decided to settle out of court.
The lawsuit involves Balenciaga suing Ghesquière for defamation and violation of a clause in their separation agreement — signed by both parties at the time of Ghesquière’s departure — which stated that the designer was prohibited from making any disparaging remarks about the fashion house.
Balenciaga is claiming that the remarks that Ghesquière made in an interview with British fashion magazine, System, were disparaging to Balenciaga and defamed the French fashion house. The designer was quoted in the interview comparing the house of Balenciaga to Chanel and Prada, claiming that while the designers of those brands had business partners who helped to build the brands to the massive fashion houses that they are, he “never had a partner” and “was doing everything by myself.”
Designers leaving their fashion houses is not uncommon. However, it is unusual if that parting of ways leads to a lawsuit, which is exactly the case between Balenciaga and its former head of design, Nicolas Ghesquière. Ghesquière was Balenciaga’s designer for 15 years until November of 2012 when they released a statement announcing a “joint decision to end their working relationship.”
Last fall, Balenciaga sued Ghesquière and stylist, Marie-Amélie Sauvé for defamation and is seeking damages in the amount of $9.2 million. At the time of Ghesquière’s departure, the designed and the fashion house signed a separation agreement that stated that Ghesquière must avoid making remarks that could disparage Balenciaga, PPR (now known as Kering), and its shareholders and collaborators.
The suit states that the reason for the gag clause was so that Ghesquière did not “justify his departure by criticizing the house that employed him.” The suit goes on to state that, “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.”