Balenciaga at the centre of the spotlight. An exhibition in London celebrates its founder, while in the US its sued for plagiarism, and in Paris for the mistreatment of models

At the Victoria & Albert Museum, in London, the brand – through the life and work of its founder, Cristobal Balenciaga, will be celebrated with an exhibition running from May 27. Titled “Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion”, it celebrates the history of the house by bringing together over 100 items ranging from hats, accessories, and drawings to fabric samples and archival photographs. Balenciaga legacy is also shown through the work of young designers like Alexander Wang, Molly Goddard, J.W.Anderson and Demna Gvasalia, creative director of Balenciaga since 2015. In Paris, however, Balenciaga came under fire because of mistreatment of about 150 models that were in the brand’s headquarters for a modelling casting. The girls were confined for three hours in a room without lights and windows by the two casting directors that were out for the lunch break. Following these allegations, those responsible for the selection were dismissed, but the episode created huge embarrassment to the brand. Things were already looking gloomy this summer when US- Company JPT, which owns the brand of sandals Bernardo, filed a petition against Balenciaga on charges of having copied its model filing a suit to a court of the Southern District of Texas in June. The complaint arose for the recent Balenciaga request for transferring the case to a Manhattan court. “Balenciaga has copied the innovative design of Bernardo and enabled the production and distribution through retail and online outlets” declared JPT. JPT argues that “since 1946 Bernardo is a leading name for its sophisticated design.” At the centre of the two licenses litigation (D577,182 and D581,149) obtained in 2008, it’s the Mojo model, a T- shaped sandal with metal ornaments and stones on the strap, that Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor and Zappos they price just under $200. The similar copy – by Balenciaga – costs about twice at Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys and Net-a-Porter.

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