Yves Saint Laurent Sues Maker of Parody Tee

Ain't Laurent without a lawsuit, as it turns out.
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Tyler McCall
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Ain't Laurent without a lawsuit, as it turns out.
Photo: What About Yves

Photo: What About Yves

When Hedi Slimane took over the reins at Yves Saint Laurent and promptly dropped the "Yves" from the name, there was quite a bit of a backlash from fans who felt he was doing a great disservice to the famous Parisian designer — inspiring a shirt which read "Ain't Laurent Without Yves" that was carried by influential retailers like Colette and Kitsune.

Well much like an elephant, Slimane — or more accurately, Luxury Goods International, which owns Yves Saint Laurent's trademarks — never forgets. Though the shirts may no longer be as trendy as they once were, the company has still filed suit against the company What About Yves and its founder Jeanine Hellier. The suit, filed in the Southern District of New York, claims the shirt is in violation of trademark infringement, trademark dilution, false designation of origin and unfair competition.

LGI claims it has reached out repeatedly to Hellier, who tried to trademark "Ain't Laurent Without Yves" in 2013 but was rejected for being too similar to the one already owned by LGI. (LGI's own application for patenting the new "Saint Laurent Paris" name is still pending.) The letters went unanswered while Hellier continued to sell the tees, until early 2014, at which time she reached out to the brand, denied any wrongdoing and offered to sell "Ain't Laurent Without Yves" to the company — a pretty bold move, all things considered.

LGI says the "defendant's infringing conduct is ongoing," which means Hellier is still selling the shirts. (Indeed, many articles of clothing featuring the slogan can be found on her website.) Though the suit says they are "made of lesser quality materials," they still claim the brand "is likely to cause consumer confusion."

These kinds of lawsuits are not without precedent. The makers of "Cuntier" shirts and beanies were threatened with a lawsuit by Cartier in 2013, though the makers of the "Homies" shirts, which parodied Hermès and other luxury companies, have not, so far as we're aware, been approached by a suit. LGI's suit refers to similar suits against Hellier from fellow luxury companies like Chanel and Dior.

It's also not the first time these shirts have been the target of Saint Laurent's wrath: In 2013, Sarah Andelman of Parisian boutique Colette claims her store was "excommunicated" from Saint Laurent for carrying the shirts. (Saint Laurent canceled canceled Colette's spring 2014 order, which totaled over $285,738 at wholesale.)

But the real question is: Are people still buying these shirts?

 Hat tip: The Fashion Law