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The Year in Fashion Scandals

2013 was filled with the good, the bad, and the ugly. From Lululemon's sheer-pants recall to Rihanna's court case with Topshop, a look at the most scandalous events of the year.



The past year was filled with the good, the bad, and the ugly. From Lululemon's sheer-pants recall to Rihanna's court case with Topshop, here's a look at the most scandalous fashion events of 2013.


Change.org Petition Rallies Victoria's Secret to Create Mastectomy Bras

On January 31, Allana Maiden, 27, and her mother, Debbie Barrett, a breast-cancer survivor, hand-delivered more than 118,000 signatures to the Victoria's Secret headquarters in New York before meeting with Tammy Roberts Myers, vice president of external communications. The meeting with Victoria's Secret was to share Maiden’s idea for a “Survivor” line for women (like her mother) who have undergone mastectomies and still want to feel sexy. Though originally receptive to the idea, VS announced a few months later, in May, that they would not proceed with the creation of a "mastectomy-ready" line. An official statement read: “Through our research, we have learned that fitting and selling mastectomy bras… in the right way… a way that is beneficial to women is complicated and truly a science. As a result, we believe that the best way for us to make an impact for our customers is to continue funding cancer research.”


Victor Boyko/Getty

Moncler Executive Arrested for Stolen Painting

French fashion brand Moncler’s head of international media relations found himself in handcuffs after landing at New York's JFK Airport on February 16. Phivos Lampros Istavrioglou, 29, was arrested for allegedly stealing a $150,000 Salvador Dali painting from an Upper East Side art gallery eight months earlier. He later pleaded guilty for the heist of Cartel Des Don Juan Tenorio 1949, which police say he dropped inside a shopping bag before casually sauntering out of the gallery. A week after the snatch, Istavrioglou sent the painting back—apparently once he realized his face was captured on surveillance cameras. Investigators were able to match his fingerprints to those collected after a separate arrest for stealing a juicebox from a Whole Foods in New York. “It was a stupid thing to do,” The New York Times reports Istavrioglou said in court. The verdict ruled that the art thief would pay $9,100 in restitution and remain in the United States until his formal sentence on March 12, after which he would be deported to Greece.

The Washington Post/Getty

Lululemon's See-Through Pant Recall

On March 18, popular athletic apparel brand Lululemon recalled 17 percent of its classic black yoga pants after store managers raised concerns that the pants were sheer in some important areas. “The only way to test for the problem is to put the pants on and bend over,” the then-CEO Christine Day said in a conference call. Lululemon not only pulled the pants off the racks, but also offered a full refund to anyone who had bought them after March 1. The recall was predicted to  cost the company as much as $67 million. And just when the company looked like it was moving forward—with its debut of its “Second Chance Pant”—the  see-through scandal took a turn for the worse. In November, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson explained the reason behind the March recall on Bloomberg TV: “Frankly, some women's bodies just don't actually work [for the yoga pants]."


Vogue Netherlands Publishes Blackface Photoshoot

Vogue Netherlands came under fire for portraying white Dutch model Querelle Jansen in blackface for "Heritage Heroes," a retrospective editorial spread of Marc Jacobs’s career. The magazine said the black makeup was used to illustrate the "tribal inspirations" behind Jacobs’s fall 2008 and spring 2009 collections, highlighting the styles of African-American women, including Grace Jones and Josephine Baker. But Vogue Netherlands is just one of several publications and blackface instances of 2013. In February, white American model Ondria Hardin posed for a Numéro piece titled “African Queen,” also appearing in blackface makeup. Most recently, Dancing With the Stars alum Julianne Hough dressed for a Halloween party as Orange Is the New Black's "Crazy Eyes" in full costume: orange prison attire, braids, and dark-painted skin.


Zara Accused of Slave Labor in Argentine Factories

Zara, a retail favorite of millions worldwide (including the Duchess of Cambridge), was investigated for the alleged use of slave labor in its clothing factories in Argentina. The investigation that began in April followed allegations that a worker's rights group found Bolivian immigrants working 13-hour days without breaks. “They were not registered and they were living in terrible conditions,” said Juan Gomez Centurion, who heads Argentina's Government Control Agency. “They had no official documents and were held against their will; they were not allowed to leave their workplaces without permission.” A spokesperson for Zara said the company was surprised by the allegations and did not receive complaints from the Argentinean police.

Frazer Harrison/Getty

Ralph Lauren Settles Bribery Charge

On April 22, WWD announced that Ralph Lauren Corp. agreed to pay the U.S. government around $1.6 million to settle a bribery scandal. The brand agreed to pay fines of $882,000 to the Justice Department and nearly $735,000 to the Securities & Exchange Commission to settle claims that it “violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.” The charges originated with one of the Ralph Lauren’s Argentinean subsidiary managers, who allegedly paid off government officials “to avoid inspection and customs requirements between 2005 and 2009.”

Cameron Spencer/Getty

Rihanna Sues Topshop

In May, Rihanna announced she was suing British retailer Topshop for $5 million for selling an oversize sleeveless “Rihanna Tank” (later named the “Icon Tank”) that featured her face without her permission. According to the New York Post, Rihanna’s management had asked that Topshop not sell her image “a number of times,” but the High Street store refused. On July 31, the judge ruled in RiRi’s favor, saying that it was “right and fair” that the 25-year-old singer be allowed to prevent any future misuse of the “style icon’s” likeness.

Andrew H. Walker/Getty

Lindsey Vonn's Drug Test at the CFDA Awards

Champion Olympic skier (and Tiger Woods girlfriend) Lindsey Vonn was allegedly drug tested on June 3 by the International Olympic Committee at the CFDA Awards. Page Six reported that Vonn received a call from the IOC during the award show, informing her that drug-testing representatives were stationed outside Alice Tully Hall. She was then escorted to the ladies restroom by a tester from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, who collected a urine sample, which was reported to have passed inspection.

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty

Streaker Crashes the D&G Runway

On June 19, head designers of Dolce & Gabbana—Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana—were sentenced to 20 months in prison each for tax evasion after they had failed to declare about $540 million in income tax to authorities. The fashion duo's headaches were exacerbated a few days later, when a streaker crashed the brand's spring/summer 2014 men's show during Milan Fashion Week. The man who leapt onto the catwalk, yelling incomprehensibly and wearing only a pair of red sneakers, was quickly tackled by security and removed from the scene.

Ethan Miller/Getty

Former Tiffany Executive Steals $1.3 Million Worth of Jewelry

According to federal authorities, Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, former vice president of design and product development at Tiffany & Co., was arrested in her Connecticut home on July 2 for stealing $1.3 million worth of jewelry and reselling it. As part of her job, Lederhaas-Okun had the ability to “check out” jewelry, and after she left the company in February, the company charges 164 items were found to be missing. According to the official report, the pieces included “numerous diamond bracelets in 18-carat gold; diamond drop and hoop earrings in platinum or 18-carat gold; diamond rings in platinum; rings with precious stones in 18-carat gold; and platinum and diamond pendants." In her July court appearance, Lederhaas-Okun pleaded guilty, commenting, “I knew it was illegal to steal and I did so regardless.” According to The New York Times, Lederhaas-Okun could face as much as 10 years in prison on the stolen-property count.

Evan Agostini/Invision, via AP

Oprah's Swiss Sales Debacle

Oprah Winfrey experienced racial discrimination when shopping at an upscale boutique in Zurich, Switzerland. Winfrey told Entertainment Tonight that she entered Trois Pommes in full “Oprah Winfrey gear” (with the exception of false lashes) and was told by a sales associate that the purse she wanted to look at was “too expensive” for her. Winfrey—one of the richest women in the world, with a net worth of $2.2 billion—then asked to see the $38,000 bag at least two more times and was repeatedly rebuffed. “And then I said, 'OK, thank you so much. You're probably right, I can't afford it.' And I walked out of the store," Oprah recounted. Commenting on the incident, Trudie Götz, the owner of the boutique, apologized for her assistant’s behavior, saying there had been "a misunderstanding between her and Oprah and that ‘we don’t have any racial controls here.’"

Ian Langsdon/Landov

Kenneth Cole's Insensitive Syria Tweet

Fashion designer and activist Kenneth Cole faced an intense backlash on Twitter for a tweet written from his personal account. Amid discussions of a U.S. intervention in the Syrian civil-war bloodbath, Cole tweeted, “'Boots on the ground’ or not, let's not forget about sandals, pumps, and loafers. #Footwear.” Many decried the tweet as "insensitive" and "terrible," with one user tweeting, “Mocking war to sell fashion? Really?” Confronted by the negative response, Cole issued a pro-freedom-of-speech statement: "For 30 years I have used my platform in provocative ways to encourage a healthy dialogue about important issues, including HIV/AIDS, war, and homelessness," he said. "I'm well aware of the risks that come with this approach, and if this encourages further awareness and discussion about critical issues then all the better."

Andrew Burton/Getty

Barneys Accused of Racial Profiing

October was an ugly month for high-end retailer Barneys New York. Two black shoppers came forward with allegations that they were victims of racial profiling after making expensive purchases at the Manhattan store. One incident involved a Queens teenager, who filed a lawsuit against Barneys and the New York City Police Department after being detained in April for two hours following his purchase of a $349 Ferragamo belt. In the second case, a female Barneys shopper filed an intent to sue, saying that she was surrounded by four undercover police officers in February when leaving the store carrying the $2,500 Celine handbag she had bought. These incidents prompted an investigation by the state attorney general into the policies governing Barneys New York and the relationship between its store security officers and the New York Police Department. A review commissioned by Barneys New York, released early November, stated that "Barneys employees did not request, require, nor initiate the actions of the New York Police Department.” 


Melissa McCarthy's Controversial ELLE Cover

Immediately after Elle’s “Women in Hollywood” issue was released, the Web cried foul at the magazine’s supposed “fat-shaming” of cover girl Melissa McCarthy. The Bridesmaids actress appeared in a wool $2,225 Marina Rinaldi coat that many claimed was intentionally chosen to hide McCarthy’s plus-size proportions. The actress’s response to "Jacket Gate" was one of sheer bafflement and very much in Elle's defense. “What I found so bizarre is I picked the coat," McCarthy explained in an interview with E! Online. "I grabbed the coat. I covered up,” she continued. On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, she made light of the online uproar saying, “There was a big to-do about it, which kind of made me laugh," she said. "Like, how dare someone put me in a $3,000 coat. That's terrible!"