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More on a Big Challenge from a Petit Main

Several months ago, Counterfeit Chic noted a legal challenge to Chanel by one of its suppliers, the small knitwear company World Tricot.  In a reversal of Chanel's role as the outraged victim of counterfeiting, the couture house was charged with having stolen World Tricot's sample design for a white vest crocheted in a flower pattern.

The middle column of today's Wall Street Journal has an update on that case, which failed to settle through mediation as recommended by the judge.  Christina Passariello's WSJ portrayal is quite sympathetic to World Tricot founder Carmen Colle, a former social worker who established the business in 1987 in order to provide jobs for poor women and immigrant refugees in the French town of Lure.  (Think Project Alabama, with a European accent.) 

Win or lose -- a judgment is expected within a couple of weeks -- Ms. Colle's David v. Goliath challenge may have cost her the business.  Chanel, which in the 2004/2005 fiscal year provided 89% of World Tricot's business, has no plans to place further orders with the company, and other couture houses have backed away as well.  To date, Ms. Colle has been forced to lay off 20% of her workforce.  The WSJ reports: 

Suing the fashion giant "was a very difficult decision," says Ms. Colle, tearing up behind her gold-rimmed glasses.  "But if I don't fight, I'm just an accomplice." 

Undaunted, Ms. Colle has founded her own retail knitwear brand, Angèle Batist, which she shows during private viewings -- and apparently includes Senator Hillary Clinton among its clients.  Brava!