PARIS – Pierre Berge wants the head of Jacques Mouclier.
“Either Mouclier goes or Saint Laurent quits the Chambre,” Berge said Wednesday, in the wake of the collapse of Event Media’s plan for live telecasts of the upcoming couture collecitons to the U.S.
Accusing Mouclier, president of the Chambre Syndicale, of “a serious professional failure,” the fiery YSL chief said he’ll call for a special meeting of the Chambre and will demand Mouclier’s resignation.
As reported, Event Media pulled out of the $1 million deal with the Chambre this week after it reportedly failed to sell enough tickets to the telecast, which would have been sent via satellite to New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Under the terms of the deal, the Chambre had promised that Event Media would pay around $50,000 to each of the 18 couture houses that agreed to participate, almost exactly the cost of renting one hall in the Carrousel du Louvre, the new fashion center here.
“Mr. Mouclier has endangered the reputation of couture with this debacle,” Berge fumed. “He led a lot of couture houses down the garden path into the Carrousel with promises of hundreds of thousands of francs, and they won’t get a sou.
“This dude is incapable of managing the Chambre. He’s ridiculous, and must be replaced,” Berge added.
Berge said he would ask for the special Chambre meeting after the couture season ends next week.
Mouclier said he had done no wrong and added that Berge called him Wednesday to warn that he would seek his ouster.
“Look, Mr. Berge was one of the people who signed the contract with Event Media,” said Mouclier. “If it was such a terrible idea, then why on earth did he agree to it in the first place?”
Mouclier said the Chambre plans to sue Event Media for breach of contract.
“My conscience is clear,” Mouclier added. “I’ve been in fashion for 21 years and I believe I’ve brought a few things to la mode over the years. Berge can do what he wants. I remain confident in my position.”
Bad blood has been boiling between Mouclier and Berge for more than a year, after they got into a bitter brawl over plans to advance the dates of the Paris ready-to-wear season ahead of the Milan shows. The dispute ultimately led to Berge being ousted last spring from the presidency of the Chambre’s rtw division after several decades in charge.
“Berge’s motivation is not for the benefit of the industry, it’s to seek revenge,” said the managing director of one couture house who asked not to be named, calling it “ironic” that Berge now considers Mouclier an unprofessional manager, “when they have been working together for 20 years.”
This executive agreed that the failure of the deal with Event Media was a disaster, but said every businessman makes mistakes. He admitted, however, that the loss of the up-front fee hurts. “That would have paid the costs of the new rooms at the Carrousel du Louvre for this season,” he explained.
At Ungaro, managing director Carlo Valerio said: “We are very disappointed. We thought the broadcasts would have been very positive for the image of haute couture. And, financially speaking, the deal also made it easier for all the houses to go into the Carrousel.
“All this drama a few days before the season is not good. But let’s examine the situation calmly after the season is over.”
Several smaller houses were clearly upset by the TV debacle. Jean-Philippe Lautraite, managing director of Lapidus, called the Event Media flop “a heavy blow, a real pity.” He added that Lapidus would probably not have gone into the Carrousel without the guarantee of Event Media’s fee.
“But I think we must depersonalize this whole issue. If there is a real problem, we can discuss it calmly. Let’s not declare war unnecessarily,” Lautraite said.
“We thought the idea was excellent, and it still is,” said Alexandre de Poniatowski, managing director of Torrente. “All of us made a special effort and a big investment. It was a chance to show all over the world.
“We are very disappointed,” he went on. “But we all signed the contract, and Saint Laurent signed like everyone else. “All of us are to blame as much as Mr. Mouclier. He has given a lot of prestige and helped develop haute couture. You can’t just blame him for one thing,” de Poniatowski concluded.
Givenchy and Kenzo president Richard Simonin would not comment on Berge’s demand for Mouclier’s departure. He did say, however, that he was “not satisfied with the management of the Event Media affair.”
Christian Lacroix also declined to comment on Mouclier. “But Christian and I are happy that the deal [with Event Media] is off,” said Jean-Jacques Picart, the house’s image director.
Picart said Lacroix had gone along with the deal mostly to show solidarity with the other houses but had been worried that Lacroix couture might be copied after the telecast.
“Now that risk has disappeared,” Picart said.