As Drake gets slapped with a £3.5 million lawsuit from Vogue, we remember fashion’s most ridiculous lawsuits, like when the Car-Freshner Corporation tried to sue Balenciaga
VERSACE VERSUS FASHION NOVA
In November 2019, Versace slapped Fashion Nova with a major lawsuit – Donatella’s lawyers said that the fast fashion brand had copied some of its most infamous creations, among them J.Lo’s jungle-print dress and the label’s black and gold, Baroque motifs. But the Californian retailer hit back, describing both of those things as “standard geometric figures and patterns” (ouch) which are “in the public domain” and “widely used in the fashion/apparel industry”. Sadly, the case was settled days before the trial was meant to start, robbing us of what would surely be an iconic in-court appearance from Donatella.
DIOR VERSUS GIGI DIOR
I think Monsieur Dior would actually be quite thrilled that THE super milf of OnlyFan’s – Gigi Dior – had adopted his family name, but the fashion house’s lawyers are not so convinced, thinking she’s been sullying the brand’s name with her subscription service. “This is ridiculous, my name has nothing to do with couture and the funny part is what I do usually involves wearing no clothes at all,” she said in response to the lawsuit. A “dilution by blurring and dilution by tarnishment,” is what the brand’s official statement said, which is ironic given both parties trade in desire.
LIN JO VERSUS KENDALL JENNER
Linda Evangelista famously quipped that she would not get out of bed for less than $10,000 – which is quite a reasonable demand, given that Kendall Jenner refused to see out a $1.8 million dollar contract with Italian fashion brand Lin Jo. The lawsuit landed on Kris Jenner’s desk in August 2021 when Kenny failed to show up to a photoshoot, asking for $1.5 million – Jenner’s original fee – plus an additional 20 per cent service charge. Her agents maintain that the claim was “without merit”, though, and that “Jenner has willingly offered to complete services honouring her commitments.”
CAR-FRESHENER CORPORATION VERSUS BALENCIAGA
Demna isn't for everyone, and he certainly wasn’t for the Car-Freshener Corporation, which accused Balenciaga of ripping off its signature design: an air freshener in the shape of a little tree. The brand’s leather keyrings were pretty much identical to the fragrant firs, which is why the company claimed that unsuspecting customers might get the two brands mixed up. That’s a little unlikely, though, given that Demna’s were being hawked for almost 100-times the $3 originals. Lays next!
NIRVANA SUING MARC JACOBS
Nirvana’s smiley face logo is an icon of grunge, which is perhaps why they trademarked the image back in 1992. That move got Marc Jacobs into hot water, though, when he riffed on the scribble as part of his 2018 Bootleg Redux Grunge collection, replacing its eyes with an “M” and a “J”. Nirvana also tried to sue the designer for appropriating the name “Grunge”, which wasn’t trademarked so much as pioneered by the brand. But fashion is nothing if not a system of semaphores, symbols, and second-hand references, and Jacobs didn’t really care – posting a video on his Instagram hashtagged with #onvacation, #nostress, #justpeaceandquiet.
ALEXIA PALMER VERSUS DONALD TRUMP
Jamaica-born Alexia Palmer, who signed to Donald Trump’s model agency when she was 17, claimed that she was treated “like a slave” by the mogul – adding that his agency abused her visa and defrauded the government. According to the lawsuit, Palmer received only $4,985 from the firm over a three year period, despite her contract certifying that she would be earning $75,000 annually. “That’s what slavery people do,” Palmer told ABC News. “You work and don’t get no money.”
THE HELLS ANGELS VERSUS ALEXANDER MCQUEEN
The notorious motorcycle club The Hells Angels tried to sue Alexander McQueen after accusing the house of misusing its trademark, winged death heads symbol. “From decades of notoriety, the HAMC marks have acquired very widespread public recognition, consequently they evoke strong and immediate reactions whenever used,” the complaint stated. “The impact of these marks is virtually incomparable, and as a result they have great commercial value.” Alexander McQueen would be giggling!
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN VERSUS SAINT LAURENT
In 2012, Christian Louboutin’s request for an injunction to stop Saint Laurent’s sales of red-soled shoes was denied by a judge. The whole thing came down to a minor discrepancy in law, which states that Louboutin’s trademark soles are entitled to protection, except for when the shoe itself is red – allowing Saint Laurent to make and sell red-bottomed heels. YSL’s attorney said that “by dismissing the case now, Yves Saint Laurent also wishes to ensure that the court will not make any further rulings that put at risk the ability of fashion designers to trademark colour in appropriate cases.” Thoughts and prayers go out to Valentino pink, Bottega green, and Hermès tangerine.
HERMÈS VERSUS METABIRKINS
As fashion brands fell to NFT’s – for all of six months – Hermès sued a digital artist for knocking off its Birkin bag with his own hirsute, non-fungible handbags. They looked like something out of Monsters Inc. So, Hermès went to sue for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and something called cybersquatting. According to the luxury label, the fuzzy little MetaBirkins were evidence of trademark infringement and dilution. But Mason Rothschild, the NFT creator, leaned on his his First Amendment rights (much like Andy Warhol did when he created his Campbell’s Soup Cans in the early 1960s) and has continued to hawk his digital wares.