Looks like we won’t get to see Balenciaga and its former designer Nicolas Ghesquière battle it out in the courtroom after all. According to WWD, the two parties have decided to settle their differences with the use of a mediator instead.
The case was brought against him by Balenciaga for “breach of duty of confidentiality” over negative comments that Ghesquière made in an interview with System Magazine. In the interview he stated;
“I felt like my ambitions for the house were incompatible with Balenciaga’s all the time, but especially over the last two or three years it became one frustration after another. It was really that lack of culture which bothered me in the end. The strongest pieces that we made for the catwalk got ignored by the business people. They forgot that in order to get to that easily sellable biker jacket, it had to go via a technically mastered piece that had been shown on the catwalk. I started to become unhappy when I realised that there was no esteem, interest, or recognition for the research that I’d done; they only cared about what the merchandisable result would look like. This accelerated desire meant they ignored the fact that all the pieces that remain the most popular today are from collections we made ten years ago.”
While most of his comments appear to be his own opinions and didn’t seem to disclose any confidential information, we must note that, in France, freedom of expression is limited in instances where an employee or former employee “besmirches or potentially imperils” an enterprise. Last November, Balenciaga and Ghesquière announced a “joint decision to end their working relationship,” effective from the end of that month. In a separation agreement signed by Ghesquière, he agreed to refrain from declarations that could hurt the image of Balenciaga, parent company PPR (now Kering), and its shareholders and collaborators.
Court documents say the French fashion designer was paid 6.6 million euros as compensation for breaking his latest employment contracts, signed in 2010 and 2012. He also received received 32 million euros for the purchase of his 10 percent stake in the company. Nice work if you can get it.
“Balenciaga didn’t want its designer to justify his departure by criticizing the house that employed him,” the suit says. “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.”