Alber Elbaz Accused of Foul Play as Lanvin Legal Battle Rages On

Photo by Matteo Prandoni/BFA

The messiest breakup since Jennifer and Ben.

Following Alber Elbaz's Oct. 28 dismissal from Lanvin, WWD reports that tensions between management and the company's works council, which has been vocally opposed to the designer's departure, have escalated.

In the Tribunal de Grande Instance (Paris' commercial court) on Tuesday, things between the two parties got even messier as Lanvin's legal team, represented by Johann Sultan of CBR & Associes, argued that the works council has been disseminating "disparaging" content through the company's email and message board system (including two messages from Elbaz himself) which were misleading and misinformed. Said Sultan, "It is 100 percent reminiscent of a union handout."

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Defense for the works council countered that the company's attempt to monitor and control the communications system was "an opaque system of obstruction and autocracy” and that employees — who made it known that they were simply "concerned about the economic and social welfare of Lanvin following what it calls the 'brutal' eviction of its star designer" — were merely attempting to find out more information regarding the company's finances. 

During the hearing, several new details regarding the specifics of Elbaz's dismissal were also revealed, including the fact that Elbaz may not receive his severance pay (estimated at $55 million) from the fashion house. 

WWD reports that the designer, who was subcontracted to Jeanne Lanvin SA (JLSA) through his company AEK Designs, was paid an advance for his services through the end of the year. "He has therefore been asked to reimburse the excess payment. To date, JLSA is owed money by AEK Designs," he told WWD.

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Sultan also alleges that Elbaz was let go for "trying to sell his shares to another company in the Lanvin group," which, according to a spokeswoman for the company, the designer did not directly own. Furthermore, Sultan claims that Elbaz held these "advance talks" to sell the company behind owner Shaw-Lan Wang's back. 

So far, the public seems to be siding with the Israeli designer, with everyone from the fashion community to the mayor of Paris weighing in on the matter. In the meantime, Elbaz is a free agent, and rumors continue to circulate that he will replace Raf Simons at Dior.