THUMBS-DOWN: A jury in Los Angeles on Tuesday found Georges Marciano, a Beverly Hills-based entrepreneur who is running for governor of California as an Independent, liable for about $370 million in damages for defaming five of his former employees. Marciano, who no longer has ties to Guess Inc., filed a lawsuit in August 2007 alleging that one of the ex-workers embezzled money and stole items from him, including valuable artworks by Robert Rauschenberg and Roy Lichtenstein, among others, along with wines from his collection and other property. The complaint was amended in February 2008 to include the four other defendants. It was dismissed in December. The former employees then filed cross-complaints against Marciano, and a judge in May found him liable for defamation and intentionally inflicting emotional distress. In the second phase of the proceedings, the jury on Tuesday found Marciano liable for about $69 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages for each plaintiff. Marciano couldn’t be reached for comment. Georges Marciano left Guess in 1992 and his brothers, Maurice, Paul and Armand, subsequently bought his shares for $240 million. Since then, he has been an avid collector and businessman.
This story first appeared in the July 29, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT: After sponsoring a competition for 11th-grade students at New York’s High School of Fashion Industries earlier this year, Allegri has decided to put the winning designs into production for a line of unisex rain boots and an umbrella. “We did not plan to manufacture all of the results of this project, but when we saw what fascinating designs the students produced, we decided to manufacture eights pairs of boots and one umbrella for the season,” said Gian Maria Argentini, chief executive officer of the Vinci, Italy-based luxury outerwear company. The colorfully patterned boots will retail for $100 to $130 this fall, while an umbrella will sell for $75. A hangtag on the products will list the names of the students who participated, and Allegri is making a four-figure donation to the high school for design supplies.
MIGRATING SOUTH: If anyone is familiar with the harsh reality of the current retail climate, it’s Michael Fink. The former vice president and women’s fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue was among the 1,100 employees let go by the luxury retailer in January. WWD has learned that Fink has been named dean of Savannah College of Art and Design’s new School of Fashion, which was previously part of the School of Design and includes fashion, accessories design, fashion marketing and management and luxury fashion management. Although Fink has sat on SCAD’s advisory board and acted as a guest critic for the school’s senior fashion class for the past three years (he also taught music at a Cincinnati middle school way back when), the move is quite a departure from the retail world — and a welcome one at that. “I think it is an incredible change,” said Fink, who, since his layoff, has been practicing yoga and “enjoying time away from the retail sector” and will relocate to Savannah, Ga., next month. “Especially based on what’s going on in New York.”
ALLEGRA HICKS RETURNS: Allegra Hicks, who closed her business in November due to the credit crunch, is back in action. The London-based Italian designer has founded a new company, AH Lifestyle Ltd., with backing from a private investor. Her debut collection will be for spring 2010, and has been designed together with Abdul Koroma and Andrew Jones, the duo behind the London label Modernist. Linda Peters, a former executive at sephora.com and the co-founder and director of London’s Centre for Fashion Enterprise, which supports emerging fashion talent, is the new chief executive officer. Hicks plans to open a stand-alone store on London’s Elizabeth Street in late October, and will present her spring collection in the space during London Fashion Week in September. The new store also will sell Hicks’ interiors fabrics. “It’s very important to recognize that smaller and midsized companies are getting private funding right now — despite the climate,” Peters told WWD. “And we’re so excited to be rebuilding and growing this business.”