Shortly after the conclusion of Hedi Slimane's wildly successful tenure at Saint Laurent, which saw the Paris-based brand alter its moniker and finally break the $1 billion revenue mark, things got very ugly ... very fast. Within two months of the expiration of Slimane's YSL contract in April 2016, the well-known creative filed not one ... but two lawsuits against Saint Laurent's parent company, Kering. The parties clashed over the applicability of the non-compete clause in Slimane's contract and a sum of more than ten million euros ($12.3 million), which Slimane alleged that Kering failed to pay him in connection with the final leg of his contract.
Following a showdown in a French labor court in late June 2016, in which Kering was provisionally ordered to pay $13 million to Slimane, the cult creative – who rose to fame thanks to his work at Dior Homme from 2000 to 2007 – has walked away with yet another victory. Late last week, a Paris Commercial Court ordered Kering to pay Slimane a whopping $12.3 million.
The win comes after the ex-Saint Laurent creative director – who was recently appointed as the creative director of LVMH-owned Celine – filed suit in a French labor court against his former employer's parent company in June 2016, alleging that Kering failed to honor the non-compete agreement in his contract.
Kering spoke out in 2016, stating that it had, in fact, lifted the non-compete clause, a common contractual provision that would have otherwise barred Slimane from working elsewhere for a set period of time following the culmination of his contract with YSL. By lifting the non-compete provision, Kering freed Slimane of the contractual limitation that would prevent him from working for a competing fashion brand for a set period of time (likely a year or so). It also served to cut off compensation to Slimane, which would have sustained for the duration of the non-compete period, as companies are required to pay the individual who is being kept from competing (i.e., working).
In a statement in June 2016, Kering said that Slimane was requesting that this clause still be applied and that he be compensated for the rest of the duration of the non-compete clause.
His Ownership Stake
Aside from the financial component associated with the non-compete agreement, Slimane also asserted that the $13 million that a French Labor Court ordered Kering to pay him in July in connection with their contract dispute was insufficient. Slimane's counsel argued that Kering owed him an additional sum to the tune of roughly ten million euros, in large part because the earlier figure did not take into account the minority ownership stake that Slimane had in YSL as set forth in his contract.
Additionally, as set out by Bloomberg, "At Saint Laurent, Slimane had a clause guaranteeing compensation after taxes of at least 10 million euros a year, mostly through an agreement to buy [his ownership] shares in the company and sell them back at a higher price."
The French court has since sided with Slimane, holding that the designer was paid less than 667,000 euros ($8230,000). According to Bloomberg, “A French court ruled last week that [Slimane] had been underpaid by as much as 9.3 million euros ($11.5 million) after taxes for his last year of service. In 2016, the 49-year-old had been paid less than 667,000 euros even after sales at Kering’s Yves Saint Laurent SAS division roughly tripled during the four years he was creative director.”
A spokesman for Kering has said that its plans to appeal the court’s decision.
Also on the table in the war between Slimane and Saint Laurent: A fight over the ownership of the Slimane-lensed photographs in Saint Laurent’s online archive. Slimane seemingly won that round with Saint Laurent wiping its entire Instagram account clean of all Slimane-lensed imagery in April 2016. Following Slimane's April 1 departure from the brand, its Instagram account went from bearing a small number of photos, mostly in connection with Part I of the house’s F/W 2016 collection to depicting a single photo, a black and white portrait of Slimane's successor Anthony Vaccarello.