Designer Naeem Khan settled an ugly lawsuit today over charges that he owed his former creative director, Lionel Geneste, back wages. But incendiary testimony given by Khan's former assistant exposed tawdry details about the designer's personal life.
According to WWD, Geneste was seeking between $150,000 and $200,000 in unpaid commission. During testimony on Friday, Geneste's lawyer Bernard Daskal said his client worked for Khan from January 2003 through June 2006--though the designer claims Geneste was actually let go in March or April 2006. According to Khan, Geneste, with whom Khan was said to have had a close working relationship, was let go because of identity fraud: Apparently he was using his boyfriend’s social security number. Khan claims he gave Geneste 18 months to clear up the issue before eventually firing him.
While the case was ostensibly about missed wages, much of Friday's testimony was spent on Khan's character--or lack thereof, according to witnesses. Jessica Hoy, former executive assistant to both Khan and Geneste from December 2005 until July 2006, claimed, among other things, that Khan was "manic," used drugs, and that she was "terrified" of him. Hoy said she saw the designer use cocaine on two different occasions--one being a party in honor of Neiman Marcus’s Ken Downing. According to Hoy, Khan and his wife Ranjana were doing coke in the bathroom. [Ed note: a fashion designer using coke? I don't believe it!]
Worse, Hoy claimed that Khan passed off a fake Birkin bag as real, and gave it to Renee Prince Fillip when she worked at Neiman Marcus. Fillip, according to Hoy, returned it, saying it would be bribery if she accepted it.
Speaking to WWD, Khan slammed Hoy's testimony as "slander," poking several holes in her allegations. He claims his wife was out of the country during Ken Downing's reportedly coke-fueled birthday and that she has the passport stamp to prove it. He added that several staffers at his label have worked with him for 10 years and that he runs his company like a family.
As for that allegedly fake Birkin: “I am part of the CFDA. Do you think a buyer from Neiman Marcus would take a fake Birkin bag from me?”
If this didn't already make you feel icky enough, there was this exchange between Hoy and Khan during a break in the testimony:
When Hoy said hello while seated a row behind her, Khan said, “I’ve never met you. I don’t recognize your face so don’t say hello to me.”
With all that ugliness going on--and going on in public, no less--it's no wonder Khan decided to settle the suit today, shortly after WWD first reported about Friday's courtroom events. Khan agreed to pay Geneste $125,000, with 75 percent of that payment delivered by Aug. 19.
According to Geneste, the suit was settled so that he would not have to take the stand, "because there were a lot of other things that were going to come out that were not pretty."
Khan had a different reason: "The thing is, I have my collection to show Sept. 10. I want this to be over with."
We're glad this is over for the both of them, but we gotta say, we were kind of enjoying the courtroom shenanigans.