To whom do the intellectual property rights for the Creative Directors’ designs belong after “everyone goes their separate ways” and is there a clause in their work contract that protects their artistic ideals?
Contract value and implicit rules for the position of creative director
Legal issues in fashion, especially labor contracts, are always one of the most sensitive and difficult to dig deep into. That’s for two main reasons: First, unless the dispute is so serious that it “takes each other to court”, the terms (including salary) are confidential information of the brand and the corporation. absolute.
Secondly, Creative Director is not simply a title “meaning in words”, each brand and each designer has their own way of working, which entails dozens of different types of contracts. If the breakup of Riccardi Tisci and Burberry was predicted with certainty based on the deadlines that the two parties signed together, then there are previous cases, such as Daniel Lee and Bottega Veneta, Frida Giannini and Gucci show that the “hot seat” in luxury corporations is very “unsteady” and you may have to “pack your bags” and leave the “house” after a phone call. The difference comes from the creative orientation and global context.
If independent or privately owned brands can have complete control over their image, matters become more complicated in empires, which bring together many different fashion houses and are headed by a board of directors. treat. Most recently, the fact that Alessandro Michele officially left Gucci made the public curious about the reason behind it. WWD said that Michele was “required to change the design style in a more minimalist direction ” after failing to meet post-pandemic growth expectations. And he refused to carry out that order.
Surely many of us are curious about the “wage” of Creative Directors. When Hedi Slimane left Saint Laurent in 2016, he filed a lawsuit against his parent company Kering which still hadn’t settled his contract payments, which amounted to €10 million. Then, a lawsuit around the same time as Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera revealed that Laura Kim’s position at the Oscar de la Renta included an annual starting salary of $1 million. and “the chance to win up to $300,000 in bonuses,” according to the New York Times.
Another question is what happens if businesses and designers decide to part ways before the contract ends? According to The Fashion Law, citing French court documents, when Nicolas Ghesquière said goodbye to Balenciaga in 2013, the fashion house had to pay Ghesquière “6.6 million euros for the breach of contract that had been committed. signed in 2010 and 2012 with him”. Ghesquière “also left with 32 million euros from owning 10% of the company when Gucci bought Balenciaga in 2001” – according to WWD.
However, even after being released from the old company, the (former) Creative Directors or designers are still not completely free because of non-compete clauses. To prevent the disclosure of a trade secret, such as a “top secret” about upcoming projects or marketing strategies, restrictive terms in an employment contract specifying the time and type of work the person does. acceptable after leaving.
A year after the end of the contract at the old company seems to be the time chosen by European fashion houses to appoint a new creative director. Nicolas Ghesquière takes up his position at Louis Vuitton on 4 November 2013, exactly one year and one day after leaving Balenciaga, while Riccardo Tisci waited just over a year to join Burberry in March 2018 after leaving Givenchy in February 2017.
Finally, the legal battle between Slimane and Kering also sheds light on another important element contained in most creative contracts: ownership rights to works created during the contract term will go to Who? In most cases, intellectual property and product power are vested in the brand.
Undoubtedly, Hedi Slimane’s clothes and accessories appear to be the property of Saint Laurent, but the parties have been vying for ownership of the photos in the company’s website archives, many of which are The photo was taken by Slimane. Therefore, after Anthony Vaccarello was named as Slimane’s successor, YSL’s Instagram account had to delete a series of photos – according to Fashion Law.
By exaggerating the definition of “rival”, the prohibition clauses and their accompanying clauses have been expanded. As a result, the public is now more aware of why the contents of these legal documents are almost always kept secret.
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