Sorry!! The article you are trying to read is not available now.
Thank you very much;
you're only a step away from
downloading your reports.

Fashion's Dirty Laundry: Chanel

By

The label's reputation isn't stain-proof.

PrintPRINT

It's one of the most recognized logos in the world: the two interlocked C's, synonymous with haute mode, luxury, prestige, and wealth. Founded by Gabrielle "CoCo" Chanel at the turn of the 20th century, the multi-billion dollar label is one of the world's most sought-after, expensive, and respected.

Then along came Carmen Colle. An ex-steelworker and social worker, Colle founded the high-end knitwear company World Tricot in the town of Lure, France, in 1989. Without any knitting, fashion, or business experience, she wanted to provide decent jobs for the many unemployed and uneducated immigrant women in the town, and she succeeded beyond expectations: by 2005, sales topped euro1.9 million.

The company is one of the many suppliers, known as "petits mains", that create the intricate hand work, like knits, feathers, and embroidery by which haute couture is known. Some of the biggest names in fashion were her clients: Christian Lacroix, Thierry Mugler, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and Chanel.

But she filed a euro5.3 million suit against Chanel -- her biggest client -- in 2005, claiming that a floral crochet pattern it used was a copy of a design she'd submitted for consideration and which the house declined.

After the two parties couldn't come to terms in court-ordered mediation in January 2006, they were back in the legal system. The following May, the court appointed an expert to examine the sample provided by World Tricot and the clothing claimed by Chanel that it had designed in-house. France has very stringent copyright laws, the first going back to 1793, that cover fashion design as works of art.

While the World Tricot case is slowly wending its way through the French legal system, the company is on the verge of bankruptcy. According to local news reports, World Tricot's orders have dried up and the firm is scrambling to stay afloat, having laid off workers and reorganizing its financing. According to Hoover's, Chanel's sales reached $1.9 billion in 2008.

Not that Colle is one to give up. She showed the first collection of her own label, Angèle Batist, in May and recently opened a store in Paris.

Coco before Chanel
  • Actress Audrey Tautou attends the premiere of "Coco Before Chanel" at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, California.

    Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images

But the World Tricot suit hasn't been the only source of bad press for Chanel. Earlier this year, the film CoCo Before Chanel was released to audiences around the world.

A romantic biopic, the movie focused on the designer's early years, but neatly skipped over the period during World War II when Chanel spent the war in Paris, living in the Ritz Hotel and conducting an affair with a Nazi officer. More than one international news outlet took the opportunity to point this out.

The Guardian newspaper summed it up with a memorable headline, "Coco Chanel: enduring style, fairytale story -- just don't mention the Nazi lover."

Click Here For Next Article Click Here For More
No positions in stocks mentioned.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

PrintPRINT
 
Featured Videos

WHAT'S POPULAR IN THE VILLE