PARIS — A racial slur made by perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain during an interview on French television last Friday is continuing to reverberate.
Patrick Lozès, president of the French Representative Council of Black Associations, said in a blog post the group may file a complaint against Guerlain’s parent company, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
“It has been six days since Mr. Guerlain made these comments, and for six long days LVMH has not moved to distance itself from them,” Lozès said.
The Association of United African Nations has urged consumers to boycott Guerlain’s products and is organizing a silent march in front of Guerlain’s flagship on the Champs-Elysées for Saturday, encouraging consumers to return any of the brand’s products.
The French television watchdog group has issued a warning to public TV station France 2, on whose news program the comment was made, for not properly controlling its broadcasting.
In addition, SOS Racisme, an organization founded in 1984 to combat racism, has said it will file a complaint.
Jean-Paul Guerlain used a derogatory term in describing how hard he worked to create the famous Samsara fragrance.
Guerlain issued a statement on Tuesday in which it said the perfumer’s comments were “intolerable” and went against the “culture, values, and ethics practiced by the enterprise, which promotes the diversity of talents of all origins.”
The statement stressed that Jean-Paul Guerlain, the fourth and last generation in a family of noses, has not been a shareholder since 1996 and retired in 2002.
“LVMH and Guerlain are one and the same thing,” said a spokeswoman for the luxury goods firm. “We are completely aligned with Guerlain and the statement that they gave.”
Lozès said he had just returned from a trip to the U.S., where he discussed the issue with the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist. A Sharpton spokeswomen confirmed the talks with Lozès and said Sharpton has “agreed to come to Paris after the midterm [elections] in early November.”
“All of the major civil rights leaders told me: ‘This is not the image we have of France,’” Lozès said.
A strong international reaction could be harmful to the brand, and potentially to LVMH, just as the luxury goods industry is starting to see signs of an economic turnaround.
“Although Jean-Paul Guerlain is no longer associated with the company, his name is inexorably linked to the brand,” said Robert Passikoff, president and founder of New York-based Brand Keys Inc. “Very few consumers are going to go out of their way to discover his true status and will attach his racial slurs to both the man and the brand.”
Passikoff added, “Comments like these are not only inappropriate, but from a brand perspective, end up creating barriers in an already competitive category.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast