Just last month much was made of Prada’s ‘voluptuous’ model choices for their Fall/Winter 2010 show where various former and current Victoria’s Secret models walked the runway. But the Italian fashion house are facing accusations that they harassed a former top retail manager in Japan to fire “old, fat and ugly” managers. Rina Bovrisse told the Japan Times on the weekend that she asked to “eliminate” 15 shop managers because Prada’s top executive Davide Sesia and human resources manager Hiroyki Takahashi deemed them “old, fat, ugly, disgusting or not having the Prada look.”
The report was dismissed by Prada according to AFP.
“Following the many press reports published on Ms Bovrisse’s termination of employment, (her) accusations regarding an alleged misconduct of the company towards her have no ground,” Prada said in a statement. “The Japanese competent court has dismissed all of the employee’s accusations and had ruled that the termination of her employment was perfectly legitimate.”
Bovrisse reportedly decided to go to the press with her story after she had failed to reach and out-of-court settlement with Prada. The Japan Times article proved to be an interesting read as it laid out a little more of what reportedly happened between Prada and Bvrisse.
According to Bovrisse’s written complaint she was called into a meeting with Takahashi and told her Sesia wanted her “to change her hair style, to lose weight, and that Sesia is ashamed of Bovrisse’s ugliness, so he doesn’t want visitors from Italy to see her.”
According to court documents, Sesia’s written testimony talks about how employees play a role in keeping up with Prada’s brand image through their staff:
“I don’t want to mention (Bovrisse’s) body shape, but Prada’s customers recognize value in Prada’s brand image and admiration toward Prada, and thus it goes without saying that it is desirable that customers looking at shop employees build admiration to wear Prada products just like Prada shop employees do.”
“I thought it is necessary to ask Ms. Bovrisse, who supervises shop employees, to make efforts to be a role model, in order to avoid lowering shop employees’ morale,” he stated.
Bovrisse wasn’t the only employee to speak out in the court case, with others offering supporting statements in the case but most report that the ‘orders’ to purchase Prada products with their own money were made via the telephone, thus making it difficult to prove in court.
It’s no uncommon for retail workers to be expected to wear the brand they are working for, but the line would have been crossed if workers were asked to change their physical appearance.