This Shoe Designer Allegedly Denied Serena Williams Discount Extended to White Celebrities

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02:  Serena Williams attends the launch of the Burberry DK88 Bag hosted by Christopher Bailey at Burberry Soho on May 2, 2017 in New York City.  (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Burberry)

This Shoe Designer Allegedly Denied Serena Williams Discount Extended to White Celebrities

They called her "disgusting."

Published May 19, 2017

Something we envy about celebrities is that even though they're likely well off, they're also exposed to way more perks than us normie folks. It's not uncommon for celebs to get sent free stuff in exchange for paparazzi pictures or #sponsored posts, and they are often privvy to discounts. When Serena Williams tried to negotiate a discount on an extensive order with luxury shoe brand Gianvito Rossi (GR), however, she was iced out, according to a new lawsuit filed by a former GR employee.

The former GR employee explains that although white celeb customers are frequently given discounts, Serena was denied the very same privilege, and following her request, GR managers called her "disgusting" for even asking. “When later pressured to do so by a contact at Vogue magazine, they offered only a fraction of the discount that white celebrities typically receive,” according to the lawsuit. This behavior, according to the defendent, "made it clear that the company did not want African American women to wear its shoes.”

The former employee, who filed the suit on the basis of racial discrimination, also said her boss was hostile with her “based upon her race and age.” In turn, this left the defendent with "no doubt about" her former manager's "racial animosity toward African Americans.” Another instance of racial bias cited was that the manager in question “threw numerous elaborate dinner parties and social events for all boutiques managed by white employees … while never once holding an event for [her] Madison Avenue store.”

This extremely disturbing account elicited the following response from Gianvito Rossi:

"Yesterday certain media outlets reported on a complaint filed against Gianvito Rossi by a former employee. Consistent with our age of viral memes and false flags, there was no attempt at corroboration or substantiation of those baseless claims. Merely lifting words from a complaint out of context, without investigation and without even awaiting any reply in a pending proceeding is a mere hit job.

Even worse, the reporting impugned baselessly and carelessly the integrity of our incredible caring and diverse staff. At the appropriate time and in the appropriate context Gianvito Rossi will reply and be vindicated.

Gianvito Rossi further regrets that this former employee chose to conflate her own claims with allegations about our relationship with Ms. Serena Williams who we have the honor of having as our client. Gianvito Rossi has the pleasure of having relationships with international celebrities without any distinction.

Finally, this employee has chosen, as is her right, to pursue legal recourse for perceived issues. Gianvito Rossi will respect that decision and will respond through the legal process.

Any questions during the pendency of this process should be directed to Gianvito Rossi's general counsel Leonard Budow, Esq., Chairman Fashion Group, Fox Rothschild LLP"

In the wake of the Chanel scandal surrounding Gabourey Sidibe, we're pleased to see a response given by Gianvito Rossi but it looks like policy change for luxury shopping is a very necessary and immediate. 

Written by Lainey Sidell

(Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Burberry)


Latest in style