NEW YORK — Fashion’s battle over red has ended with a white flag.
After a highly publicized legal tug of war that lasted a year and a half, Yves Saint Laurent SA said Tuesday that it will drop its lawsuit against Christian Louboutin SA.
Claiming it won a “conclusive” victory, YSL said it is ready to “close the book” on what had become one of the most widely scrutinized legal cases in the fashion world.
Louboutin sued YSL in April 2011, claiming the fashion house infringed on the footwear brand’s trademark when it sold red pumps with red soles. Presiding New York federal court judge Victor Marrero disagreed with Louboutin, and allowed YSL to continue to sell the monochrome shoes. The judge went a step further by questioning the validity of Louboutin’s trademark.
With its mark in jeopardy, the French shoemaker appealed the decision, and in January, Louboutin lawyer Harley Lewin argued his client’s case before a packed courtroom, which included industry figures such as Council of Fashion Designers of America president Diane von Furstenberg, CFDA chief executive officer Steven Kolb and an apprehensive Christian Louboutin.
“From our perspective, the Appeals Court decision was a complete victory for us,” said YSL lawyer David Bernstein. “We got the right to sell the shoes and the court even narrowed Louboutin’s trademark. It’s our hope that Louboutin will stop using the [trademark] registration in an anticompetitive way.”
While YSL dismissed its counterclaims that essentially called into question how Louboutin procured its trademark, Bernstein said his client still has a “very strong” case to cancel Louboutin’s registration should the brand attempt another lawsuit.
“There’s little reason for us to pursue the cancelation at this point,” he said. “We’ve already won and there’s no reason to be vindictive.”
But Louboutin’s Lewin shrugged off Bernstein’s aggressive words, calling the claims “counter threats” that are “not substantive” and difficult to prove.
Essentially, YSL would have to bring the matter to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and make the case that the patent office that granted Louboutin its mark had done so fraudulently. Not only would that be a lot of trouble but it would also further strain an already frayed relationship between two leading industry brands. Ending in a truce of sorts may also help heal the precarious personal relationship between Christian Louboutin and François-Henri Pinault, chairman and ceo of PPR, YSL’s parent company, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Now that YSL has a new direction under creative director Hedi Slimane, Lewin hopes that the house, which is now known as Saint Laurent, will steer clear of producing shoes that ruffle Louboutin’s feathers. While the lawyer noted that under common law his client still has a case against brands that produce all-red shoes, he too seemed content to call the legal battle a truce.
“Now that Pepsi and Coke have fought over the formula, I must say, in my 40-year career, I’ve never seen a case go more wide than this one,” Lewin remarked. “It had a celebrity, fashion and legal side to it but once the consumer got involved, that changed the face of the case. It was tried in the courtroom and the court of public opinion.”
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion