Backstage at  Lanvin Men’s Fall 2020

PARIS — Fashion houses Loewe and Lanvin have struck an agreement in the non-compete case related to Lanvin’s employment of designer Bruno Sialelli, ending a dispute that had landed in a Paris commercial court over a year ago, WWD has learned. 

Loewe and Lanvin announce that they have put an end to their dispute related to the hiring of Bruno Sialelli as artistic director at Lanvin at a time when he was still bound by non-compete commitments linked to his prior position at Loewe,” the parties said in a joint statement on the out-of-court settlement.

“Lanvin recognizes it handled this hiring hastily, resulting in a lack of consideration toward Loewe,” the statement also said.

Sialelli, who was previously men’s wear designer at Loewe, a fashion house belonging to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, was recruited to reverse the fortunes of historic house Lanvin, which belongs to Fosun International.

As previously reported, Sialelli’s non-compete clause from his previous position at Loewe was valid until the end of May 2019. WWD had reported the previous October that the Loewe designer was in talks with Lanvin for the new job, and the house formally revealed his appointment in January 2019. The designer’s first collection for Lanvin was shown in Paris a year ago in February.

LVMH is known to strictly enforce non-compete clauses, which are widespread in the industry as fashion houses seek to safeguard talent against poaching from rivals.

When Raf Simons left LVMH-owned Christian Dior, for example, his new appointment at the head of Calvin Klein was announced the day after his non-compete clause expired with his previous employer.

Sialelli’s appointment at Lanvin came after an extended period of uncertainty at Lanvin, and the new management team was under pressure to move swiftly to right the troubled label.

The departure of creative director Alber Elbaz in 2015 was followed by a series of false starts. Elbaz’s successor, Bouchra Jarrar, left after 16 months amid declining sales, while Olivier Lapidus exited after only two seasons. By 2018, the house was suffering a liquidity crisis, and Fosun swept in and took a majority stake. The company moved quickly to recruit a new chief executive officer, selecting former LVMH executive Jean-Philippe Hecquet — Sandro’s ceo at the time — to lead the label’s revival.

With Sialelli, the Fosun Fashion Group embraced a youthful approach, with a more casual focus to the upscale house than Elbaz had pursued. He has infused collections with cartoonish proportions and crafty techniques, folding in references to Babar on one occasion. He has also brought men’s and women’s wear closer together. “It’s not about gender-fluidity, it’s just a fact. It’s how people are shopping now,” he told WWD at one show.

Sialelli was employed by Loewe as head of men’s wear between March 2016 and January last year, according to his LinkedIn profile. Before that, he held senior design roles in women’s wear at Paco Rabanne, Acne Studios and Balenciaga. He is a fashion graduate of Studio Berçot in Paris.

“With a view to restoring their relation of mutual respect among haute couture brands with strong tradition, Loewe and Lanvin state that they have jointly come to an agreement that is balanced and respectful of practices and interests of their sector,” the joint statement from the houses concluded. No further details were provided.