The 10 Most Scandalous Fashion Lawsuits

Ah, fashion. We get a little warm feeling inside at the mention of the word. And honestly, there’s so much to celebrate — the luminosity it adds to our lives; how, sometimes, all you need after a hard day is some retail therapy; and putting on your favorite pair of (fill in the blank) makes you feel like a million bucks. 

We love fashion, but we’re grown-up enough to know it’s not always beautiful. Like most cases, when you open yourself up to something wonderful, you often make yourself vulnerable to the unsavory, too. So, in the spirit to seeing both sides, we’re bringing you the highlights of the not-so-pretty (and quite scandalous) history of fashion. Here are 10 of the biggest smackdowns straight from fashion’s harrowing underbelly.


John Galliano V. Dior

On March 1, 2011, John Galliano was dismissed as head of the Dior fashion house for his nasty anti-Semitic slurs that were caught on camera. But, as of this fall, the word on the street is that Galliano is not going down without a fight. He reportedly filed a suit against his former employer for approximately $18.8 million. Though the specifics of the suit are yet unknown, there’s speculation he’s suing for wrongful termination. The hearing is set for February 4, 2013.


Lynn Tesoro V. Jennifer Eymere

This was the slap heard around the world — the fashion world, that is. At Zac Posen’s show at NYFW fall ’12, 60 seats were removed in compliance to fire marshal orders. Jennifer Eymere, editor at the French magazine Jalouse, and PR person, Lynn Tesoro, got into a scuffle regarding missing seats resulting in Ms. Eymere slapping Ms. Tesoro across the face. Eymere told WWD in an interview the following day that her intent was to humiliate and let Tesoro know “You don’t f–k with French people.” Ms. Tesoro slapped her back with a $1 million lawsuit for “assault, battery, emotional distress, slander and/or libel.”


Former AA Employee V. Dov Charney

The notorious CEO of American Apparel, Dov Charney, has upped his creep factor after a series of employees lodged sexual harassment cases against him. Perhaps one of the most frightening of all is this one: A former sales associate claims that after repeatedly beleaguering her to the point of a mental breakdown, Charney coerced her into being his “sex slave” on her 18th birthday. She’s suing for a whopping $250 million for sexual harrassment. If it’s true, we think he should pay up.


Hells Angels V. Alexander McQueen

Now those are two names you don’t often hear in the same sentence! On October 25, 2010, the motorcycle club sued the late Alexander McQueen (rest in peace) for breaching trademark protections, namely the HAMC skull-and-wings pattern used on a $495 knuckle buster ring, a $1,595 dress, and a $560 silk scarf. They also sued Saks, Inc. and for stocking items of this trademark breach. According to Fritz Clapp, the club’s legal representative, the symbol represented a “membership insignia, and anyone wearing them would be considered an impostor by club members.”


Hermès V. LVMH

Call it a hostile takeover, but relations have been bubbling over between luxury brand conglomerate LVMH and family-owned Hermès, for years. On October 23, 2010, LVMH announced its ownership of 14.2% of the Hermès company. Since then, it have increased its holdings to 22.3%, all the while claiming that they don’t intend to seek control. Hermès won a major victory in 2011 after a French court green lighted the formation of a holding company that will retain 50.2 percent of its equity. This creates an obstacle for anyone who is, ahem, not trying to appropriate anyone else. Ugly words have been exchanged, and LVMH plans to countersue for “blackmail, false accusations, and unfair competition.”


Christian Louboutin V. YSL

On April 7, 2011, Christian Louboutin sued YSL for using its trademark red soles on a pair of monochromatic Tribute pumps, seeking damages of at least $1 million. The judge presiding over the case ruling that no one designer can monopolize the use of a single color. Besides, YSL had been making red-soled shoes since the ’70s, and so the trademarking of the Louboutin red sole in 2008 might not have been a very fair one in the first place. However, the judge still upheld Louboutin’s trademark for use of the red sole alone. A victory according to both parties, YSL filed the motion to dismiss the case on October 16, 2012, and Louboutindropped charges just as of last Thursday.


Lululemon V. Calvin Klein

Makers of iconic yoga gear, the Canadian brand Lululemon sued Calvin Klein for unspecified damages on August 13, 2012 for ripping off the patented waistband of its Astro pant. A strategic move, it’s likely the case may never make it into court and settle quietly — but not before drumming up plenty of publicity for the brand. We don’t mind either way, as long as our tushies continue to look awesome while we do our Warrior III pose.


Former Intern V. The Hearst Corp

A controversial case, there’s been arguments that everyone who wants to succeed must first pay his or her dues. However, exploited labor is never excusable. From August to December of 2011, Diana Wang was the head accessories intern atHarper’s Bazaar, working 40 to 55 hours a week without proper compensation. In July 2012, a judge conditionally granted her case class-action status. The suit claims that Hearst violated New York Labor laws and is for an undisclosed amount.


Hailey Clauson’s Parents V. Urban Outfitters

The fashion industry is no stranger to fresh-faced young models — so young, they’re perhaps a bittoo young for some jobs. In the controversial eggshell-strewn land of underage models, Hailey Clauson is a household name. Discovered at 14 years old, Clauson made her debut in Vogue Russia 2009 and has had a whirlwind career since then. In August of 2011, Urban Outfitters made the unfortunate decision to stock T-shirts from Blood is the New Black screen printed with an unauthorized image of a scantily clad then-15-year-old. Her parents, all riled up, filed a $28 million suit against the retailers. We’d like to know why her parents and her agency allowed her to take these photos — all these photos — in the first place?


Tory Burch vs. C. Wonder

In October of this year, Tory Burch’s ex-husband sued her, claiming that she barred the sale of his 28.3% stake in her eponymous label. Tory Burch countersued on November 6, alleging that Mr. Burch’s company, C. Wonder, infringed on her signature preppy, bold style. She also had some not-so-nice things to say about her ex-husband’s brand, including this little gem: “Defendants deny that C. Wonder is a cutting-edge brand. C. Wonder is a knock-off brand.”

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