PARIS — A lawyer for Lanvin, which is embroiled in a legal battle with its works council in the wake of the departure of creative director Alber Elbaz, said Wednesday that the designer would not be entitled to any severance pay from the company.
Johann Sultan of CBR & Associés spoke out after Isabelle Schucké-Niel, the lawyer representing the works council, told a Paris court on Tuesday that the severance package could cost Lanvin between 20 million euros and 40 million euros, or $27.5 million to $55 million at current exchange.
Elbaz was subcontracted to Jeanne Lanvin SA (JLSA) via his company AEK Designs. The designer was dismissed on Oct. 28 because of differences of opinion with Lanvin’s majority owner Shaw-Lan Wang and chief executive officer Michèle Huiban.
Sultan said Elbaz received an advance payment for his fees up to Dec. 31, 2015.
“He has therefore been asked to reimburse the excess payment. To date, JLSA is owed money by AEK Designs,” he told WWD.
“There is no reason for JLSA to make provisions of any nature concerning Mr. Elbaz,” the lawyer added. “There is no reason to pay Mr. Elbaz 20 million or 40 million. This is not credible.”
Elbaz has not launched any legal action against Lanvin so far, according to a source with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be quoted because of the ongoing court case.
Sultan also clarified another point raised during Tuesday’s hearing in court. Referring to a deal between Lanvin and Itochu Corp. in Japan, he said the company was buying back the brand in Japan from Itochu, and not buying back its Japanese operations, as reported.
The management of Lanvin has asked the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris to block the works council from using the company’s e-mail and messaging boards to share information with members of staff regarding the designer’s ouster.
Sultan also asked judge Pénélope Postel-Vinay to suspend the “right to notify” procedure launched by the group of employee representatives, which says it is concerned about the economic and social welfare of Lanvin following what it calls the “brutal” eviction of Elbaz.
Schucké-Niel asked the judge to dismiss all the company’s requests, saying the works council was up against “an opaque system of obstruction and autocracy” that did not approve of employees seeking information about the company’s finances.
The ruling has been scheduled for Dec. 16.