Fashion’s most famous designer, Karl Lagerfeld, is facing legal action. Turns out, female activist group, Belle, Ronde, Sexy et je m’assume (Beautiful, Rounded, Sexy and Fine with it), are taking Chanel’s creative director to court in France for his not-so-nice words about full-figured women. The group’s president, Betty Aubriere, says the group has filed a defamation lawsuit against Lagerfeld, stating that Chanel’s creative director had displayed a “discriminatory attitude.” The comments cited in the group’s complaint include: “Nobody wants to see curvy women on the runway” and “fat people” are wasting the country’s tax revenue because “all the illnesses [are] contracted by people who are too fat.” Lagerfeld made the latter statement during a recent episode of French talk show, Le Grand 8.
According to Aubriere, “There are a lot of young girls who don’t feel comfortable in their skin, and for them to hear comments like that is terrible for them.” She also said 500 people had signed a petition against Lagerfeld’s views, including “young girls who are victims of insults at school and sometimes have to leave school.”
And in case you live under a rock, this isn’t Karl’s first time making headlines for fat-shaming. Last year, he called out Grammy award winner, Adele, saying: “Adele is a little bit too fat.” Also last year, the German designer shed some light on models at a Little Black Jacket event, stating: “The story with the anorexic girls – nobody works with anorexic girls, that’s nothing to do with fashion. People who have that [anorexia] have problems to do with family and things like that. There are less than 1 per cent of anorexic girls, but there more than 30 per cent of girls in France, – I don’t know about England – that are much, much overweight. And it is much more dangerous and very bad for the health. So I think today with the junk food in front of the TV it’s something dangerous for the health of the girl. The models are skinny, but not that skinny.” Last (for us, he has certainly made more pro-sample size comments) but not least, in 2009 he told Focus Magazine that people prefer to look at “skinny models” and those who do not are “fat mummies.” Oh, Karl.
While this lawsuit likely wouldn’t stand in U.S. courts, France enjoys strict defamation laws, which are more claimant friendly than in the U.S. In an action for defamation, the claimant (the Belle, Ronde, Sexy et je m’assume group, in this case) has to prove: 1) the publication of a statement to a third party in France; 2) which refers to the claimant, and 3) the meaning of which is defamatory. According to the Act of July 29, 1881, defamation is defined as “any allegation or imputation of an act affecting the honor or reputation of the person or body against whom it is made” and relates to factual statements or opinions.
The up-side for Karl, the vast majority of his statements likely won’t be considered as part of the case, as a defamation claim must be lodged at the court within a period of three months starting from the first publication or broadcast.