Byline: William Middleton

PARIS — When it was learned last week that Victoire de Castellane was going from Chanel to Christian Dior, the news kicked off yet another skirmish in the long, often bitter, battle between the two venerable houses.
“All the people we don’t make an effort to keep seem to go to Dior,” Karl Lagerfeld told WWD, as reported Thursday. “It’s our poubelle [trash can].”
Friday afternoon, Dior fired back, with a spokesman saying it plans to sue Lagerfeld over his “abusive comments against the house of Dior.”
Reached Friday night, Lagerfeld was unapologetic. “Who expects you to say nice things when someone is hired away? I have very good lawyers, so I’m not worried.”
The designer didn’t seem shy about raising the stakes, either. “I have nothing against the house of Dior, but it’s not my fault if they take our leftovers,” he said.
Even before last year’s hiring of John Galliano as Dior’s designer, tension between the two houses was building, exacerbated by the 1995 launch of the Lady Dior bag. Observers suggest that the success of the bag ate into an area Chanel had once dominated.
And then there’s the issue of executives. De Castellane — the niece of Chanel executive Gilles Dufour — is the latest in a series of transfers.
When Galliano moved to Dior and didn’t bring along his muse, Amanda Harlech, Lagerfeld gladly hired her for Chanel.
Of Harlech, Dior president Francois Baufume said at the time, “She chose the past, not the future.”
Chanel couture directrice Catherine Riviere was the next to move to Dior, taking with her a privileged relationship with one of the world’s biggest couture clients, Mouna al Ayoub.
Dior is unveiling its Avenue Montaigne flagship Tuesday evening; Chanel is unveiling its new fine jewelry boutique on the Place Vendome next month.