Critical darling Alexander Wang has been hit with a $50 million lawsuit by garment workers at his Manhattan studio who say that they had to work 16-hour shifts without breaks or legally mandated overtime pay. Alexander Wang apparently saw revenues of over $25 million last year. The allegations are pretty serious:
Wenyu Lu and dozens of co-workers charge that Wang, 28, and his brother, Dennis, violated numerous state labor laws in their operation at 386 Broadway. As a result, Lu and the others have suffered injuries, illnesses, lost time from work and lost sleep, says their suit filed in Queens Supreme Court.
Lu, 56, claims he was hospitalized for several days after he passed out at his workstation because he was forced to work 25 hours without a break and was warned that he would be fired if he didn't follow orders.
Lu eventually was fired, the suit alleges, in retaliation for complaining about the working conditions (and for filing a worker's compensation claim to cover treatment for the injuries he allegedly suffered at work). The timeline seems to sync with the pre-fashion week busy period when designers are rushing to prepare for the show and the studio may have to produce all the samples for the new collection — around that time, 16-hour days aren't unusual for anyone who works in the industry. But you still have to pay people. Including overtime. (Unless they're models; then you can keep them working until 4:30 a.m. and not pay them a cent.) Wang has yet to respond to the suit. [NYPost]
"I'm gonna take that bitch to college! I'm gonna give that bitch some knowledge!" intones a rapper who calls himself Zebra Katz over the loudest of loudspeakers, jolting awake the somnambulant fashion audience at the Rick Owens show.
SAshika Pratt, Alyssah Ali and Jessica Clark
- Many New York designers don't pay the models who appear in their shows — but they do have to pay the celebrities who populate their front rows. Nicole Farhi says, "I have never paid a celebrity and I will never do it. It's stupid. What do they show you in the papers after a fashion show? Not the clothes, but the celebrities who are being paid to sit at the show." She also says that she suspects other designers will feel like she's letting the cat out of the bag. "They will all hate me for it. I don't give a shit, because I think it is abominable." Though Farhi's comments certainly put a spotlight on the issue, the reality that celebrities are paid to go to shows is hardly "news": an actual list of celebrities and their appearance fees made it to the Internet over two years ago. Back then, Rihanna would cost you $100,000, Colin Firth rated $15,000, while Kristin Bell would go to a show in exchange for airfare, hotel, and expenses. Lindsay Lohan was not invited. [Telegraph]
- Rumored Christian Dior contender Maxime Simoens said he wouldn't comment on the scuttlebutt, then admitted he was "in negotiations" for...something. [WWD]
- At the Hermès show in Paris, Carine Roitfeld was being trailed by a camera crew. Interesting. Fifty-three-year-old Caroline von Paulus — the singer, model, and ex of Serge Gainsbourg better known as Bambou — closed the show. [Fashionista]
- Vogue went to the mysterious borough of Brooklyn, to shoot some totally authentic, really real footage of the cast of HBO's Girls. [Vogue]
- Guess donated $2.5 million to New York University to endow a visiting professorship in fashion and fashion business. [WWD]
- There's a rumor that Charlotte Casiraghi is the new face of Gucci. [Telegraph]
- Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani is set to become a knight of the order of the Légion d'Honneur on March 13. [WWD]