Judge Lifts Injunction in Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta Battle

The courts don’t stop for the pre-Christmas rush.

New York State judge Jeffrey Oing on Friday lifted a preliminary injunction that barred designer Laura Kim from working at Oscar de la Renta given her noncompete agreement with Carolina Herrera Ltd.

Oing — who presided over Macy’s Inc.’s high profile battle against Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and J.C. Penney Co. Inc. — ordered the temporary restraining order on Wednesday. It was set to last until a Jan. 10 hearing on the matter, which is still going forward.

Herrera has claimed the noncompete agreement is in force until April 8.

A statement from de la Renta said: “We are pleased with the court’s decision today to reverse the temporary restraining order that prevented Laura Kim from returning to our company where she worked for over 12 years before being recruited by Carolina Herrera. We look forward to returning on January 10, 2017 to fully brief the court on the non-compete matter and to more fully answer the claims in the lawsuit brought by Mrs. Herrera and her team.”

The about-face is just the latest twist in a fast-moving legal drama that exploded this week.

The houses of Herrera and de la Renta are staunch competitors and the suit has already shined a spotlight on the inner workings of designer fashion.

Herrera sued de la Renta and designer Laura Kim this week to enforce Kim’s non-compete agreement. Kim, who worked at de la Renta for 12 years, moved over to Herrera for a short while, but was transitioning back.

A letter filed with the lawsuit from Herrera’s lawyer Holland & Knight said the noncompete agreement was extremely focused in that, “Carolina Herrera has no objection to Ms. Kim working for any fashion house other than Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera’s direct competitor.”

Although the Puig-owned Carolina Herrera business is bigger, its primary category is fragrance. The de la Renta business is centered on ready-to-wear and accessories.

Kim and her colleague Fernando Garcia consulted for Herrera in fall 2015, and Kim became the company’s senior vice president for design in January, with an annual salary of $450,000.

The employment agreement required that Kim give Herrera three months’ notice when she intended to resign and stipulated that the company could “at its discretion” elect to exercise a six-month noncompete provision.

In September, just after word spread that Kim and Garcia were rejoining de la Renta — Herrera chief executive officer Francois Kress sent Kim a letter putting the noncompete provision of the contract in force.

Herrera’s suit said Kim is getting 50 percent of her monthly base salary during the noncompete period.

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