The fashion designer is suing de la Renta and designer Laura Kim to stop her from working for the fashion house until her six-month non-compete agreement ends on April 8, 2017. Herrera's lawyers, Holland & Knight, included a letter with the lawsuit that states the agreement only applies to Oscar de la Renta.
“Moreover, Carolina Herrera has no objection to Ms. Kim working for any fashion house other than Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera’s direct competitor," the letter reads.
Kim was working for de la Renta for 12 years before she left to consult with Herrera and discuss a full-time position. This is yet another instance of Herrera poaching de la Renta executives, which goes back to the never-ending rivalry between the two fashion houses. Herrera's business is a lot bigger but its main seller is fragrance while de la Renta's revolves around ready-to-wear and accessories.
Judge Jeffrey K. Oing has granted a temporary restraining order to stop Kim from working for de la Renta until their hearing on Jan. 10. Kim and her colleague, Fernando Garcia, were hired in fall 2015 where she became the senior vice president for design where she received an annual salary of $450,000. Kim signed an agreement that required her to give three months' notice if she intended to resign and the company could "at its discretion" decide to exercise a six-month non-compete, according to WWD. Eventually, Kim was offered the job of creative director that would have "transitioned out" Herrera but reportedly turned down the job to join de la Renta as co-creative director after the 77-year-old designer didn't want to hire Garcia.
“‘Nobody knows you and nobody knows you are here,'" Kim's affidavit states Herrera told her herself. "'I am more famous than you and I have more powerful friends.'”
The lawsuit also notes that Kim is being paid 50 percent of her annual salary until her non-compete ends so Herrera doesn't want her to participate in the design of de la Renta's fall 2017 collection, or be a part of any industry or press events. The fashion house is also seeking damages and other “relief as the court may deem just and proper.”
De la Renta has released a statement where it states that it will be sticking with Kim and Garcia.
“While we are disappointed by the court’s decision yesterday to temporarily restrain Laura Kim from returning to our company, where she worked closely with Oscar for over 12 years, we respect the court’s decision and look forward to returning to court soon. At that time, we will more fully brief the court on this non-compete matter and to otherwise respond to this oddly timed lawsuit brought by Mrs. Herrera and her team,” the company said. “More than ever, we remain committed to our partnership with Laura Kim, Fernando Garcia and Monse, a firm with a very bright future in which we recently made a significant equity investment and with whom we are working closely."
Looks like neither side is backing down so the courts will have to decide who will win.