PARIS — All 150 workers at the Yves Saint Laurent atelier — except Loulou de la Falaise, who was traveling — and their president, Pierre Berge, packed into a small courtroom here Tuesday to hear arguments in the case pitting them against French retail titan Francois Pinault.
This story first appeared in the June 12, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The judge presiding over the case is due to deliver a ruling Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Pinault’s lawyers argued that the workers’ committee has stymied his plan to sell the retiring couturier’s atelier to French industrialist Patrice Bouygues. For its part, the committee objects that Bouygues has dodged questions about what he intends to do to make the YSL atelier profitable. Although he didn’t testify at the hearing, Berge said afterward that he supported the workers’ committee.
“Yves Saint Laurent would never have retired if Francois Pinault had not assured him that his workers would be provided for,” he said. “Then came Patrice Bouygues. I know the company lost $11 million a year with the world’s greatest couturier at the helm. But a house run by a bunch of small couturiers — I don’t see how that can work.”
Bouygues, who agreed to buy the couture operation for a symbolic euro, has said he intends to transform the house into a multi-brand couture operation.”