NEW YORK — Vidal Sassoon is out to prove to Procter & Gamble that not everything is for sale.
Sassoon, 74, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles against Cincinnati-based P&G on Tuesday, alleging neglect, sabotage and the destruction of his brand and name. At the heart of the lawsuit, Sassoon alleges breach of contract and fraud over his line of Vidal Sassoon hair care products, which P&G discontinued in the U.S. and Europe late last year. The hair care brand, which Sassoon said still generates upward of $200 million in sales in Asia, has suffered mostly due to a lack of ad support and a product relaunch two years ago that drastically changed the brand’s image.
"It was sabotage," Sassoon said in an interview. "People who are now in control of P&G wanted to strip me of my persona and take it for themselves."
Sassoon named John Pepper, P&G’s chairman, and A.G. Lafley, P&G’s chief executive, as two executives that most destroyed the brand and his trust.
Sassoon said Pepper argued with him over selling the brand back to Sassoon or to another company. Sassoon recalled Pepper saying that P&G would not allow the brand "getting into the hands of L’Oréal or Unilever," P&G’s biggest hair care rivals.
Sassoon said Lafley betrayed his trust when he was not consulted in the recent sale of the 25 internationally based Vidal Sassoon salons from P&G to Regis Corp.
"A.G. did not have the decency to pick up the phone," Sassoon said of the sale.
In a statement, P&G said: "We are disappointed that Mr. Sassoon has chosen to bring a lawsuit against the company. We have consistently supported this business and we don’t believe his case has merit."
Although Sassoon now is criticizing P&G, he wasn’t always so angry. In an interview with WWD’s Beauty Biz in mid-2001, Sassoon was quoted saying that he was pleased with P&G’s handling of the brand. When asked if he had second thoughts about doing business with P&G, Sassoon said, "I would do it exactly the same way! We would never have had the adventure without Procter & Gamble, and I have to give them all due credit of being able to go into all different types of markets." His wife, Ronnie, was also quoted in the article, citing that Vidal "has been extremely involved in the development of the black line." She was referring to the 2000 relaunch of Sassoon.The suit included four claims: breach of fiduciary duty, actual and constructive fraud and breach of implied covenant.
The suit asked for trial by a jury and asked for compensatory damages of more than $75,000, termination and/or cancelation of Sassoon’s contract with P&G and punitive damages.
A spokesperson for attorneys Pierce O’Donnell and Ann Marie Mortimer of the Los Angeles law firm of O’Donnell & Shaeffer LLP, said the suit is a multimillion-dollar case.
The slump of the Vidal Sassoon brand didn’t happen overnight.
P&G acquired the Vidal Sassoon line of products and the trademark from Richardson-Vicks 17 years ago. A series of overhauls throughout the Nineties kept the brand popular, with sales exceeding $400 million, Sassoon said Tuesday. But in 2000, P&G relaunched Vidal Sassoon with a strong fashion positioning, and increased prices to $5 from $3 and to $12 from $5. Sales of Vidal Sassoon hair care dropped nearly 40 percent to $25.4 million in mass stores, excluding Wal-Mart, for the 52-week period ended Dec. 1, 2002, against the prior-year period, according to Information Resources Inc.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews