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The Berge-Mouclier War of Words Escalates

PARIS -- The fight between Pierre Berge and Jacques Mouclier is getting meaner.<BR><BR>Mouclier, president of the Chambre Syndicale, whom Berge wants fired, issued a statement last Friday entitled "I Will Not Resign," in which he accused the Yves...

PARIS — The fight between Pierre Berge and Jacques Mouclier is getting meaner.

Mouclier, president of the Chambre Syndicale, whom Berge wants fired, issued a statement last Friday entitled “I Will Not Resign,” in which he accused the Yves Saint Laurent Couture president of being a “master” of the ridiculous.

Berge counterattacked by accusing Mouclier of “gross nepotism.”

Berge called for Mouclier to be ousted after the Chambre’s project with Event Media to broadcast haute couture collections in the U.S. via satellite collapsed.

And in the latest fallout from that debacle, several couture houses, who were expecting $50,000 each from the Event Media deal, have refused to pay the rent for auditoriums they used in the Carrousel, the new Paris fashion center. Fifty percent of the Carrousel rent was due on Thursday, Jan. 2O.

Balmain’s spokesman Chantal Dannaud-Vizioz verified that the house hasn’t paid. Paco Rabanne and Torrente reportedly have not sent any payment, either.

“We haven’t paid any money yet for the Carrousel and are consulting our lawyers before sending a reply to the Chambre Syndicale on Monday,” Vizioz said.

“Mr. Mouclier knows full well that many houses are in difficulty because of the collapse of the Event Media deal. He was the one who neglected to get the proper bank guarantees from those people. It’s a true scandal,” Vizioz said.

Mouclier said he was unaware that any house had failed to make its first payment for Carrousel’s use. He added that the Chambre had already informed all the houses that the rent had been reduced by 25 percent.

In his letter, Mouclier again defended the Event Media contract, which collapsed due to poor ticket sales, and lamented that his position has been “brutally brought into question.” He also criticized Berge for “announcing the death and disappearance of couture,” even though he is president of one of the largest couture houses in Paris. “The moods and campaigns of Monsieur Berge will not provoke my resignation,” the statement ends.

Replying to Mouclier’s release, Berge said: “Mr. Mouclier is trying to suggest that I’m the only person who wants him out. He’s already forgotten that Karl Lagerfeld also told WWD that Mouclier should go.”

Berge also criticized Mouclier for nepotism, on the grounds that his son, Yves Mouclier, was appointed president of the Carrousel de la Mode, a trade fair held during Paris fashion week in the Tuileries gardens close to the Carrousel. “He gave his son a job as if the Chambre were his private business. Yves is a very good man, but some are a lot better and competent than others,” Berge said.

Mouclier said that his son had been unanimously chosen by the Chambre and the Federation Francaise du Pret-a-Porter Feminin, which together control the Carrousel de la Mode.

Asked about the latest spat, Lagerfeld said: “This whole thing is turning into some lower middle-class French farce. And anyway, it’s pretty embarrassing for Pierre that even with Saint Laurent, Event Media couldn’t sell enough tickets.”

He added that before the season many top models had refused to let their images be broadcast by Event Media. “So the whole thing couldn’t have happened anyway,” Lagerfeld said.