The slap heard ’round New York Fashion Week has officially materialized into a legal smackdown.
Public relations executive Lynn Tesoro on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Marie-José Susskind-Jalou, president of Jalou publishing house, and her daughters Jennifer Eymere and Vanessa Bellugeon of Jalouse and L’Officiel magazines.
This story first appeared in the November 9, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Tesoro, who claims that an angry Susskind-Jalou slapped her in the face prior to Zac Posen’s runway show at Avery Fisher Hall on Sept. 9, had filed a summons and notice shortly after the incident.
The lawsuit, which was filed in New York Supreme Court, details Tesoro’s account of the event, and includes charges of battery against Susskind-Jalou, libel against Eymere and both assault and slander against all three defendants.
Tesoro, who is seeking unspecified damages, said the incident occurred when fire marshals decided to remove 60 seats from the designer’s mostly front-row show, causing Tesoro’s p.r. firm, HL Group, to scramble to reassign seats.
According to the lawsuit, Tesoro “calmly” explained the situation to the defendants, but they “refused to listen to reason and continued to berate” the publicist in a “loud and offensive manner” in front of the show’s attendees.
A heated exchange between Tesoro and the trio ensued and culminated in Susskind-Jalou striking Tesoro “without provocation,” court papers said. In the press, Eymere, Susskind-Jalou’s daughter, had taken credit for the assault.
WWD first reported the incident, detailing Eymere’s account. According to the complaint, which cites press reports, Eymere, who was upset at how her mother was being treated, warned Tesoro: “Be careful, I am going to slap you.”
According to the court papers, quoting WWD’s report on the incident, Eymere later boasted: “It was a small slap. It was not strong. I didn’t hurt her, it was just to humiliate her. She humiliated my mom, and I humiliated her in front of her crew. Voilà. I just said at the end, ‘Now you know you don’t f–k with French people.’”
But, according to the lawsuit: “It was not a small slap, but a hard one.”
Not only did the incident physically harm Tesoro, but it also “injured” her business and “humiliated” her.
“Such statements falsely indicated that Tesoro deserved to be slapped because she verbally ‘humiliated’ Susskind-Jalou, when the exact opposite is true,” Tesoro’s lawyers said.
Calls to the defendants’ legal team were not returned by press time.