By  on August 27, 2014

PARIS — The lawsuit brought by Balenciaga against its former designer, Nicolas Ghesquière, has moved out of the courtroom, WWD has learned.

Both parties, at the suggestion of the president of the Tribunal de Grande Instance, have agreed to try and resolve the case via mediation, according to Hugo Lévy, lawyer at Thierry Lévy & Associés, counsel for Balenciaga.

The court had been scheduled to hand down its decision today after hearing oral arguments in the civil case last month.

Balenciaga is seeking damages of 7 million euros, or $9.4 million at current exchange, over an interview Ghesquière and stylist Marie-Amélie Sauvé granted to London-based fashion magazine System last year about the Frenchman’s post-Balenciaga career.

The attempt at mediation does not represent any change in Balenciaga’s initial claim, Lévy said Tuesday.

Should the parties fail to reach an agreement through mediation, Balenciaga will pursue the claim before the tribunal, he noted.

During last month’s hearing, the fashion house argued Ghesquière violated a separation agreement that stipulated that he refrain from declarations that could hurt the image of Balenciaga; parent Kering, then known as PPR, and its shareholders and collaborators.

The suit mentions multiple quotes by the designer from the System story, which ran more than 30 pages. One of them reads: “It was all about branding. I don’t have anything against that; actually, the thing that I’m most proud of is that it’s become a big financial entity and will continue to exist. But I began to feel as though I was sucked dry, like they wanted to steal my identity while trying to homogenize things.”

Lawyers for Ghesquière had argued that the comments made to System did not amount to criticism of Balenciaga, but rather the industry in general, and that Balenciaga provided no proof of prejudice, with the damages sought telegraphing a vindictive intent.

As reported, court documents say Ghesquière was paid 6.6 million euros, or $9 million, as compensation for breaking his latest employment contracts, signed in 2010 and 2012. The designer, who was given an equity stake when then-parent Gucci Group bought Balenciaga in 2001, received 32 million euros, or $43.7 million, for the purchase of his 10 percent stake in the company.

The case has shed some light on the end of Ghesquière’s 17-year tenure at Balenciaga, during which he propelled the dusty couture house to the front of fashion’s avant-garde. Sometime during the summer of 2012, relations soured between Ghesquière and Balenciaga chief executive officer Isabelle Guichot.

Balenciaga’s collections are now designed by Alexander Wang, while Ghesquière went on to succeed Marc Jacobs as Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of women’s collections.

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