Carolina Herrera Is Suing Oscar de La Renta Over Hiring of Monse Designer

Courtesy of SCAD
Carolina Herrera

The fashion house hopes to block Laura Kim, former House of Herrera consultant and co-founder of Monse, from joining Oscar de la Renta until April.

Two American fashion heavyweights are going head-to-head in court: Carolina Herrera is suing Oscar de la Renta. 

WWD first reported Wednesday that Carolina Herrera filed a lawsuit against Oscar de la Renta in the Supreme Court of New York in an attempt to block the fashion house from hiring Laura Kim — a former employee of Herrera and co-founder of the red-carpet favorite label Monse — until April. 

"Carolina Herrera is pleased the court today granted a temporary restraining order that upholds the non-compete agreement we signed with our former senior designer," said the fashion house in a statement. "As the court ruled, the non-compete agreement was fair and plainly-worded."

Just two months after Peter Copping's departure from Oscar de la Renta in July (he had been in the position since de la Renta himself passed away in 2014), Kim and Fernando Garcia were named as co-creative directors of the American fashion house. Both designers had begun their careers at Oscar de la Renta, where they worked for 12 years.

However, Kim briefly flirted with the idea of succeeding Carolina Herrera at her namesake fashion house. In October 2015, both Kim and Garcia were hired as full-time consultants, and Kim was in talks with the brand to take over as creative director as the 77-year-old Herrera was transitioned out of the role. According to an affadavit filed on behalf of Kim, Herrera was unaware that Kim had been hired to succeed her.

Said Kim, "According to my offer letter, I was supposed to be reporting to CH’s president and chief executive officer Francois Kress. However, I soon learned that Ms. Herrera frequently took charge, without objection from Mr. Kress." Her contract stated that she was required to give three-month resignation notice, and that Herrera could invoke the non-compete clause at "its discretion." Kim claims that her attempt to offer a three-month notice to Kress was turned down. 

Kim resigned from House of Herrera in July and was named co-creative director of de la Renta in September. Five days later, Kress sent Kim a letter invoking the six-month non-compete agreement. According to Page Six, Kim's lawyers claim the non-complete clause is unenforceable because she was pushed out of the company.

On Friday, WWD reported that Judge Jeffrey Oing had lifted the temporary restraining order put into effect on Wednesday; the order was initially set to last until the hearing on Jan. 10.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision today to reverse the temporary restraining order that prevented Laura Kim from returning to our company where she worked for over 12 years before being recruited by Carolina Herrera,” said Oscar de la Renta in a statement. “We look forward to returning on January 10, 2017 to fully brief the court on the non-compete matter and to more fully answer the claims in the lawsuit brought by Mrs. Herrera and her team.”

12:15 p.m., Friday, Dec. 23: Updated following the court's lift of temporary restraining order.

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