ALAIA THREATENS TO PULL OUT OF BARNEYS IF LEGER STAYS
Byline: Godfrey Deeny
PARIS — A simmering feud between Azzedine Alaia and Herve Leger may be about to boil over.
Alaia said Tuesday he may pull his collection out of Barneys New York unless the specialty store chain stops carrying Herve Leger’s ready-to-wear. According to Alaia, Leger has been plagiarizing his designs for years.
Simon Doonan, senior vice president of creative services at Barneys, said the store had not heard anything from Alaia about pulling the collection.
Herve Leger declined to comment on Alaia’s charges, but his commercial director, Gilles Roignant, denied that the designer had copied anything by Alaia.
“They are copies,” Alaia insisted. “That’s how he [Leger] has built his career — by copying my work. It’s gotten to the point where people think I’m influenced by him.”
But Alaia does not intend to sue Leger, saying he won’t follow the example of Pierre Berge, who successfully sued Ralph Lauren in a French court for copying a tuxedo dress by Yves Saint Laurent. “That’s not my style. But I intend to publicize what he’s been doing,” Alaia said. “This is an old story,” Roignant said. “Effectively, Azzedine Alaia has been mounting a campaign against our house, alleging that Herve has been copying him.
“The truth is that about two years ago, we began to take away some of Alaia’s market. It’s true that we work in the same space. But Azzedine has been having problems with his deliveries and his shows, so maybe that’s why he turned on us,” Roignant added. Alaia insisted he had “proof” of Leger’s alleged copying. He said that a gown worn by Heather Stewart White at her recent wedding in Paris with Yannick Noah was a direct copy of a dress he made in 1985.
“He’s copied my ideas in stretch, leather and other materials. I don’t care about him. He hasn’t any style. But it’s infuriating when the press treats him as some sort of star,” said Alaia, who claimed that Leger had attended some of his runway shows. Alaia said he would “greatly regret” having to pull his line out of Barneys if the store persisted with Leger. “Gene [Pressman] is like family, but if I have to, I’ll stop selling to him.”