TOKYO — A former senior retail manager at Prada Japan is suing the Japanese subsidiary of the Italian luxury goods house, accusing the company of harassing and discriminating against its staff members, including herself, on the basis of physical appearance.
Rina Bovrisse, who filed her lawsuit Friday, alleges Prada Japan chief executive officer Davide Sesia asked her last year to “eliminate” about 15 store managers and another 15 retail staff members because he considered them overweight or unattractive.
Prada has denied the charges. “You can’t stop people suing you,” said a Milan-based spokesman. “We are very serene and we’ll fight back in the appropriate way.” Contacted by e-mail, Sesia deferred to the company’s press office.
In December, Bovrisse filed a labor complaint with the Tokyo District Court and the last of three closed-door hearings took place March 12. Shortly thereafter, she was fired from the company. While Prada has indicated the court ruled in its favor, Bovrisse said that’s not the case.
Prada said last week the court dismissed all of Bovrisse’s accusations and ruled that the termination of her employment was perfectly legitimate. But Bovrisse maintains that, since the court did not reach a settlement between the parties, she is free to pursue a lawsuit against the company. The trial, which would be open to the public, likely would last about one year, Bovrisse said.
Bovrisse claims Sesia requested she remove about 30 employees, mostly women in their late 30s and early 40s, from their positions at stores. These people were subsequently demoted to positions at outlets or stores at remote locations, but many of them ended up resigning from the company, she said.
The Bovrisse-Prada dispute came to light last week in a report in the English-language newspaper The Japan Times.
The former retail manager, who maintains a human resources manager told her to lose weight and change her hair color, said she hopes the suit will inspire more Japanese women to speak up when they are treated unfairly. Japan’s deferential corporate culture has convinced women here that it’s better to stay quiet, said Bovrisse.
Bovrisse, a Japanese national, has more than a decade of experience in the fashion industry including an eight-year run at Chanel in both the U.S. and Japan as well as a year-and-a-half stint at Prada’s U.S. headquarters in New York.
She is seeking compensation for emotional damages and her lawyers’ fees.
“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