Hervé Léger Director Cuts Wide Swath With Offensive Comments

Hervé LégerSeveral companies have been boycotted for antigay comments made by top execs, but one of the men behind a trendy fashion line that is part of the BCBG Max Azria Group has managed to offend everyone who might buy his dresses except size 2 collegiates. Patrick Couderc, the UK managing director at Hervé Léger, of bandage dress fame, offered offensive comments in an interview that cuts a wide swath across potential buyers – and are sure to offend others.

Hervé Léger is a popular designer line seen on the Rihanna, Kate Winslet, Kim Kardashian, Caitlyn Jenner and various other reality stars, The French label’s UK boss, who created the line’s iconic and very successful bandage dresses (known for their skin-tight stretchy fabric) caused controversy by advising many women to buy his designs in an article in The Daily Mail in England.

Those advised by Couderc to stay away from the fashionable garments that typically cost more than $2,000 include: women with ample breasts, those with prominent hips even if they are flat chested, and older women older women who insist on “displaying everything like you’re 23” and women who wore underwear that is too small. Then, he went on to suggest that gays stay away too. ”If you’re a committed lesbian and you are wearing trousers all your life, you won’t want to buy a Léger dress,” he commented. ”Lesbians would want to be rather butch and leisurely.”

Created in the 1980s and reintroduced in 2007, the popular style has since been a victim of its own success. It has since been copied and produced by several lower echelon chains. In his defense, however, the dresses do not work for everyone. But, that should be up to the buyer. Every style works for some, not all. That is beside the point – Couderc was way out of line.

The outcry and reaction has begun on social media. As a tweet by London-based feminist author Kathy Lette commented: “Herve Leger boss will need his OWN bandages after saying that lesbians & voluptuous women r banned from wearing brand’s iconic bandage dress.”

Talk of a boycott of the brand is not without precedent. The chairman of pasta company Barilla said he would never put a same-sex couple in their ads and added that if gays didn’t like it, they could eat something else. That toxic commentary caused a public backlash. Gay advocates claims Guido Barilla was horrified by the consequences of his comments and his firm has become a poster child for gay rights.

A few years ago, Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy condemned gay marriage igniting a social media firestorm and store picketing, He even conceded that he was “guilty as charged” for his views which clearly hurt their expansion plans into bigger cities in the North and West.

The peril for companies is about public image and reputation. A large company can take the short-term profit hit from a boycott, but a designer clothing line is only as hot as its most recent designs. A bad year may be surmountable, but repeated ones and a tarnished brand will no longer get the floor space in upscale stores.

In an effort to minimize damage and the wide swath their director cut into their market with his offensive comments, the Hervé Léger parent company, BCBG Maz Azria Group scrambled with a statement that they too were appalled by Couderc’s comments. “BCBGMAXAZRIA Group is working in concert with MJH Fashion, the London-based licensee of the Hervé Léger brand, to investigate and establish appropriate next steps.” They noted that Couderc’s statements  should not be “a reflection of Hervé Léger by Max Azria or MJH Fashion ideals or sentiments. The Hervé Léger by Max Azria brand celebrates sensuality, glamour and femininity without discrimination.”

Written and edited by Dyanne Weiss

Daily Mail: ‘Fat or lesbian? Then don’t wear my dress’: Fashion tycoon behind iconic Herve Leger ‘bandage’ frock risks women’s wrath with bizarre outburst
E Online: Hervé Léger Director Says “Voluptuous” & “Committed Lesbian” Women Shouldn’t Sport Bandage Dresses
PerezHilton: Bandage Dress Designer Doesn’t Want ‘Fat,’ ‘Voluptuous Women,’ Or ‘Committed Lesbians’ Wearing His Outfits! What?!
Washington Post: Human Rights Campaign says Barilla has turned around its policies on LGBT
USA Today: Chick-fil-A wings in new direction after gay flap

Photo courtesy pixelnaiad Flickr page – Creative Commons license

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