Is Dior So Small-Minded?

In an unexpected move, Dior is seeking compensation from Valentino for apparently obstructing the business of their boutique in Rome, where in the vicinity, Valentino staged their latest couture show

Dior pop-up store at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands in April this year. File photo: Chin Boh Kay for SOTD

According to a WWD report shared online a short while ago, Dior has asked Valentino for compensation because of supposed disruption to the operation of their Rome store on Via Condotti, directly opposite the monumental Spanish Steps on which the recent, much-lauded Valentino couture show was staged. WWD reported to have seen the letter that the retail manager of Christian Dior Italia sent to Valentino, asking for €100,000 (approximately SGD142,000) to be paid in 15 days, possibly as recognition of loss of sales. Even when the store front was packed with attendees of the Valentino show, there were apparently no customers inside. According to Dior, they had not been able to “operate from the early hours of the afternoon”—last Friday.

It is not known if the entire Piazza di Spagna on which the famed stairway ends was cordoned off to the public or if Via Condotti was shut too. Or how difficult it was for customers to get to the Dior store as a result of the well-attended presentation, which saw stars such as Anne Hathaway, Ariana DeBose, Florence Pugh, and Kate Hudson show up in their couture finery. Did none of them pop in at Dior, even to just browse? Reportedly, Dior, as well as other retailers in the area, were sent a letter by Valentino that “guaranteed regular foot traffic to the stores”, but the seller of the Book tote stated that the flow of shoppers was “not reflected in any way”.

The Valentino autumn/winter 2022 couture show on the Spanish Steps in Rome. The models would be facing the Dior store to their left as they descended. Screen grab:

Many luxury brands, Dior included, have been taking their shows to venues not necessarily ideal for a runway, but would provide the appreciatively spectacular background to a collection as sensational as the couture (interestingly and, perhaps, ironically, Dior’s is designed by a former employee of Valentino). Although, at the Valentino show, models had to make their way nervously down the 138 steps in their tall heels, the elegance of the clothes on the stairway was quite a sight to behold. Did the executives at Dior not see the show from within their store and enjoyed it? Or were they seething with such deep displeasure at being overshadowed by a competitor’s event (and more alluring collection?!) that they wanted some reimbursement to feel better?

Dior’s revenue, according to reports in 2020, has surged so much that it is on track to catch up with Chanel. Morgan Stanley analysts estimated that in 2019, the brand’s sales of both fashion and beauty divisions have jumped by 24 percent, which amounted to €6.6 billion (or about SGD9.3 billion; Dior does not reveal their sales figures). And the number is still growing. It is, therefore, rather curious that they cannot afford a sales recess of €100,000, which, in all likelihood, is small, compared to the losses incurred during the national lockdown in the wake of Italy’s staggering COVID-19 infection in March 2020. It is possible that Dior was not the only brand with weak sales on the day of the Valentino couture showing. Will there be a domino effect or Dior’s demand encouraging others, such as Moncler, who is opposite them on Via Condotti, also facing the Spanish Steps, to follow suit? Would Dior have asked for any money if the show was staged by one of the brands under parent company LVMH, such as Fendi?