Adwoa Aboah is pushing back against an alleged attempt by The Lions to undermine her new contract with DNA.
About six months after The Lions Model Management sued DNA Model Management, along with its founder David Bonnouvrier and his friend Camilla Lowther, founder of CLM Agency, and Aboah’s mother, accusing them of scheming to get the model out of her Lions contract early, Aboah is throwing herself into the fight.
In her own lawsuit against Lions filed late Thursday in a Manhattan court, Aboah said Lions is holding back $190,000 of her past earnings “as a form of ransom” stemming from her “lawful” decision in August to leave the agency before her three-year contract was up to sign with DNA.
Aboah said Lions’ refusal to turn over the earnings is illegal and noted that “models are not indentured servants and are entitled to receive payment for their modeling services.”
A representative of Lions could not be reached for comment.
In pushing for a dismissal of Lions’ suit, DNA and Bonnouvrier also referenced indentured servitude in arguing models are free to move between agencies. Aboah is represented by the same law firm that is working for DNA and Bonnouvrier.
While it is industry practice for agencies to receive payment on behalf of models they represent and then deduct costs for representation and other things, like housing and other expenses the model may have been fronted, Aboah said these deductions have already been made and the $190,000 is rightfully hers.
Aboah also claimed that during her time with Lions — she signed with them in early January 2015 and left last August — she earned a total of $670,000 in gross fees.
In January, Lions told the court that Aboah was earning $1 million a year by the time she left the agency in support of its argument that DNA, thanks in part to a relationship Aboah’s mother had with Bonnouvrier, essentially poached a model they made very successful.
Lowther at the end of December joined Bonnouvrier and DNA in asking that Lions’ suit be dismissed, arguing that Aboah had every right to end her representation with Lions, leaving no valid breach of contract claim against anyone and even rejecting Lions’ role in her daughter’s recent success.
“Essentially, the complaint pleads that Ms. Aboah left LMM [Lions Model Management] even though she was enjoying success as a model,” Lowther wrote in her motion. “Who’s to say that those successes were the work of LMM? Not LMM. And who’s to say that even with those successes, LMM had performed its other obligations, such as billing and collections, making advances and providing Ms. Aboah with career advice and guidance? Again, not LMM.”
Lowther’s CLM Agency represents creatives across the fashion editorial industry, including photographers Tim Walker and Juergen Teller and stylists Katie Grand and Venetia Scott, who recently took up the style-director position at British Vogue left open by the clamorous exit of Lucinda Chambers.
When Lions first filed suit over Aboah’s defection to DNA, it claimed that the model and her mother “made it known” after it refused to release Aboah that Lowther would “use her influence to cause problems for the Lions in the fashion industry.”
Lions is seeking unspecified damages related to an alleged loss in fees for work it had been negotiating up for Aboah.
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