Picture a rotating roster of glossy crocodile Birkin bags in hues of royal purple, vibrant salmon, fire engine red, and cool turquoise displayed against the rolling terrain of Provence or on the terrace of the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc overlooking the sea on the Côte D’azur in Antibes. Now add in the latest seasonal purses from Chanel, perched atop a bench at the Paris-based fashion brand’s elaborate runway shows, and throw in a Louis Vuitton suitcase and a colorfully-painted Petite Malle for good measure. This is the content that has made @swedishandstylish a popular follow for more than 150,000 handbag-obsessed Instagram users.
In the sea of Hermès and Chanel that is @swedishandstylish’s timeline, there is also an expansive collection of Christian Dior bags, from tie-dyed Saddle bags to exotic skinned Lady Dior ones, which the account’s owner – a Florida-based jet-setter who routinely obscures her face in her luxury-soaked photos – pairs with ready-to-wear, footwear and eyewear from the 73-year old high fashion brand. While not nearly as striking as the pool of eye-poppingly expensive Birkin and Kelly bags that populate the @swedishandstylish page, a couple of these Dior-centric posts are noteworthy, as they are precisely the ones that have pitted the Florida-based limited liability company tied to the Swedishandstylish account against the fashion brand in a new lawsuit.
In its recently-initiated lawsuit, Swedishandstylish LLC claims that Dior is using the account’s imagery to help sell its products, albeit without the authorization to do so. According to the complaint that it filed in a federal court in New York on Monday, Swedishandstylish LLC alleges that LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned Christian Dior is on the hook for copyright infringement for “knowingly copying, displaying, and distributing” two photos from the @swedishandstylish Instagram account – which are “owned and registered by Swedishandstylish LLC” – and “prominently featur[ing] them in one or more of its lookbooks, including on the cover of at least one lookbook … for its own commercial gain.”
In furtherance of its practice of “promot[ing] and market[ing] its luxury products” – from $800+ t-shirts and $4,000 dresses to $1,050 kitten heel slingbacks and $3,550 flap bags – “to its customers using, among other things, ‘lookbooks,’ which are visually appealing fashion catalogues of well-styled images that feature Christian Dior products,” Swedishandstylish LLC claims that Dior used the copyright-protected photos in order to “reap the benefit and value associated with” the photos, while allegedly failing to obtain “authority or permission.”
“By failing to obtain authorization from the copyright owner to use the photos or to compensate the copyright owner for [its] use [of the images],” which are “wholly original” and subject to registrations with the U.S. Copyright Office, Swedishandstylish LLC asserts that Dior “has avoided payment of license fees and other financial costs associated with obtaining permission to exploit the infringed photographs, as well as the restrictions to which the copyright owner is entitled to and would place on any such exploitation, including the right to deny permission altogether.”
With the foregoing in mind, Swedishandstylish LLC has set forth two claims of copyright infringement, and asked the court to award it monetary damages, while also requiring Dior – which “entered the realm of mega brands, becoming luxury’s sixth player to attain sales in excess of €5 billion, joining the ranks of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Cartier and Hermès” in 2019, per Morgan Stanley – to refrain from using the images and to “recall any products, works, or other materials that include, copy, are derived from, or otherwise embody one or both of the infringed photographs, and that Dior be ordered to destroy or deliver up for destruction all materials returned to it.”
A rep for Dior was not immediately available for comment.
UPDATED (August 6, 2020): In lieu of filing a formal response to the lawsuit lodged against it by Swedishandstylish LLC, Dior has seemingly agreed to settle the matter. In a filing on August 6, one day before Dior’s answer was due, counsel for Swedishandstylish LLC filed a notice of voluntary dismissal, alerting the court that “the action is voluntarily dismissed, with prejudice and without costs against the defendant(s) Christian Dior, Inc.” The terms of any potential settlement agreement is confidential.
*The case is Swedishandstylish LLC v. Christian Dior, Inc., 1:20-cv-02099 (SDNY).