A row has broken out in the world of high fashion after the French house Dior demanded compensation from Italian rival Valentino for allegedly blocking access to a Dior boutique during a show on the Spanish Steps in Rome, according to a claim by fashion website Women’s Wear Daily.
Valentino positioned its audience of fashion editors, photographers and celebrities – among them Naomi Campbell, Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway – at the foot of the 18th-century travertine staircase in Piazza di Spagna. The Dior shop on Via Condotti looks on to the piazza.
In a letter to Valentino seen by Women’s Wear Daily, the retail manager of Christian Dior Italia says access to the Dior shop was “hampered” and that customers were “refused access and blocked at the barriers”.
As a result, the store “remained empty and could not operate from the early hours of the afternoon” on Friday. Dior claims the problem was “amplified” by the event being scheduled on a Friday, “a day when surely proceeds are [significant]”.
It is claimed that the French house is requesting €100,000 (£85,000) in compensation for lost business. According to the letter, if Valentino fails to pay the full amount within 15 days Dior, will “adopt all the necessary measures to protect its rights”.
Dior claims that Valentino had written to local retailers on 27 June, stating “guaranteed regular foot traffic to the stores”. Dior maintains this was “not reflected in any way” on the night.
According to WWD, no other local fashion retailer has submitted a complaint. Dior’s immediate neighbours on Via Condotti include the brands Gucci, Prada and Moncler.
An attendee, who has requested anonymity, said: “To be sure, it was crowded – a lot of people were watching the show from the streets, and there were barriers blocking people from flooding the area where the guests were seated.
“I don’t know why Dior made this request. Every store could have something to say about it.”
Valentino has not responded publicly to Dior’s demand and when approached by the Guardian said it had no comment. Dior has not responded to the Guardian’s request to clarify whether the complaint was authorised by the company’s headquarters in Paris.
“I do wonder if there is some kind of history of rivalry there,” said the fashion historian Dr Kate Strasdin of Falmouth University. Prior to being Dior’s creative director in 2016, Maria Grazia Chiuri worked alongside Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino as co-artistic director.
“After their first individual collections in 2016, there were suggestions that their designs shared some aesthetic DNA,” said Strasdin. “There isn’t a documented history of conflict between the two brands, so I imagine this must be of more recent origin.”