On the heels of their oral arguments in July, Paris-based design house Balenciaga and its former creative director, Nicolas Ghesquière are set to attempt to settle their dispute via mediation. While the Parisian civil court was expected to decide the case today, the president of the Tribunal de Grande Instance suggested that the parties try to resolve the dispute between themselves and both have agreed.
According to Hugo Lévy, of Thierry Lévy & Associés, who is serving as counsel for Balenciaga, the attempt at mediation does not represent "any change in Balenciaga's initial claim." In this case, which was filed in June 2013, Balenciaga is seeking $9.5 million in damages to remedy the reputational harm it claims to have experienced as a result comments Ghesquière made in breach of his separation agreement with the house.
Prior to leaving Balenciaga, Ghesquière agreed in writing that he would “refrain from making declarations that could hurt the image of Balenciaga or its parent company, Kering.” The statements at issue stem from an interview Ghesquière gave to System, a bi-annual publication pioneered by Jonathan Wingfield, Alexia Niedzielski, Elizabeth von Guttman and Thomal Lenthal. One of the most highly contested excerpts is the following: “I was being sucked dry, like they wanted to steal my identity while trying to homogenize things.”
Despite what you may have read, this isn't necessarily the last we will hear of this case. The parties have three months to reach an “amiable" agreement via mediation, or they'll be headed back to court.