Oh, the irony: Mere months after Moschino dropped a heavily hip-hop-influenced collection with H&M (who experienced its own major racial gaffe around this time last year), the Italian luxury label’s U.S. arm is being sued for racial profiling and discrimination by a former employee.
As reported by TMZ, Shamael Lataillade, a black Haitian-American woman who held an unspecified position in the company’s boutique in West Hollywood, Calif., claimed a supervisor used a code name in reference to black clientele—particularly those who didn’t look monied. Lataillade claims she was fired for complaining to the corporation about the behavior.
The female supervisor would allegedly call the clients in question “Serenas”—presumably in reference to tennis star Serena Williams (even more ironic, since Williams could no doubt buy that entire store and put its staff on the payroll).
Furthering the insult, in documents obtained by TMZ, Lataillade contends a supervisor would instruct employees to surveil black shoppers “if they didn’t have diamonds or carry name brands.” Additionally, associates were instructed to mislead so-called “Serenas” by claiming items were out of stock. The suit also alleges that the supervisor sometimes recorded license plate numbers of black clients and in one instance, purportedly called police to report a “suspicious” customer Lataillade says “turned out to be a high-profile rapper.”
Lataillade also alleges that the unnamed supervisor subjected her to personal insults, mocking her Haitian heritage by claiming that she practiced voodoo. (If only.)
In response to the suit, which seeks unspecified damages, Moschino denied Lataillade’s charges to TMZ and stated that the company “complies with applicable equal employment laws and values and respects all customers and clients regardless of their race or background.”
Interestingly, the label’s creative director is designer Jeremy Scott, a close friend and frequent dresser of hip-hop stars Cardi B and Offset. In 2012, Scott came under fire for his so-called “shackle sneaker” for Adidas, which many considered racially insensitive, and has also been slammed with several copyright infringement suits. More recently, Scott has not shied away from speaking out on social issues like gun control.
Offset walked the runway for Scott’s eponymous label during Fashion Week in September, while a significant number of black models—including Naomi Campbell, Winnie Harlow and Joan Smalls—appeared in the H&M x Moschino runway debut in October and for the adjacent campaign. Moschino’s next runway show is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 8 in Rome. Neither Scott nor Moschino has offered any public statement on Lataillade’s suit.