JOHN GALLIANO has won the first round in a case against Dior, claimed his lawyer, Chantal Giraud-van Gaver of Coblence & Associés. A Paris court ruled that it was qualified to hear the designer’s claims against his dismissal from the famed fashion house in March 2011, after making anti-Semitic remarks in a Paris café.
A lawyer for Christian Dior Couture and John Galliano the label, Jean Néret of Jeantet Associés, argued that because of the complicated nature of Galliano’s contracts with both firms, the case should be heard by a commercial court. Neret maintained that the designer should be looked at as an independent contractor of the company, rather than an employee.
Yesterday, a court heard that Galliano – who was present for the trial – earned a €1 million (£858,900) annual salary at Christian Dior Couture, plus variable compensation of up to €700,000 (£601,000), and a percentage of the brand’s annual sales rise. He was also given a yearly clothing budget of €30,000 (£25,700), and a grooming budget for personal appearances of €60,000 (£51,500). The designer also received a further €2 million (£1.7 million) per year for his work at his eponymous label and a percentage linked to the decrease in brand losses every year. The contract also entitled him to a second annual clothing and grooming budget totalling €100,000 (£85,800).
“John Galliano was no ordinary employee,” Neret toldWWD. “In fact, I would go as far as saying he wasn’t an employee at all. The complexity of his various contracts is sharply at odds with the image of a poor, defenceless employee which the opposing party is trying to project.”
Giraud-van Gaver argued that it was inaccurate to call Galliano a subcontractor because exclusivity clauses meant that he was bound to both companies.
“Mr Galliano is perhaps no ordinary employee, due to the nature of his position and his notoriety, but he is an employee nonetheless,” she said. “Would an external provider be supplied with a car and a chauffeur? Would he have a coach and a personal assistant? Would the company grant him stock options?”
It is unknown how much Galliano is seeking in damages, but his lawyer disclosed that the amount would be high. Dior has 15 days to contest the ruling. If the brand does challenge the decision the case will be referred to Paris’ court of appeal in seven to nine months’ time.
“There are several arguments,” said Giraud-van Gaver. “One is based on nullity, one takes into account his health, one argues that his dismissal was ill-founded, so depending on what the court retains, there are different degrees of compensation involved. He was at the company for a long time and he had a big salary, so the sums demanded will necessarily be high.”
Galliano is currently working in Oscar de la Renta’s studio in New York as part of a temporary residency, in what is the designer’s first return to fashion since his sacking nearly two years ago.
05 FEBRUARY 2013 | ELLA ALEXANDER