Show Fell Apart, 'Project Runway' Star Claims
(CN) - "Project Runway" winner Irina Shabayeva claims in court that a producer ruined her show during New York's Fashion Week and then pinned the blame on her.
Shabayeva sued Roche Inc. dba New York Fashion Shows and its managing director Trisha Prasad, in New York County Supreme Court.
She claims the producer lied that she would be the only designer in the show, failed to book enough models for the runway and refused to pay models for a second show it had scheduled without her consent.
Shabayeva, a graduate of the prestigious Parsons School of Design, worked her way up in the New York fashion industry from an early age, with the intention to launch her own brand. Her popularity as a fashion designer skyrocketed after she won the sixth season of the Lifetime TV reality series "Project Runway," according to the complaint.
Hosted by model Heidi Klum, "Project Runway" selects contestants from a highly competitive pool of fashion designers who compete with each other to design and create clothes under time pressure, with limited materials.
Shabayeva's success on the show brought media attention and popularity to her brand, attracting a large fan and client base, according to the complaint.
Celebrities such as Carrie Underwood, Selena Gomez and Kelly Clarkson have allegedly worn Shabayeva's designs, which are sold in boutiques around the United States and on the Internet.
In early August, New York Fashion Shows, through Prasad, asked Shabayeva if she would design and create clothes for a fashion show scheduled for September, during New York's Fashion Week, according to the lawsuit.
New York Fashion Shows produces, sponsors and promotes fashion industry events.
Shabayeva, who had participated in numerous shows in the past, says she saw the contract as an opportunity to display her latest collections to buyers, the media and the public.
She claims Prasad asked her to create 80 outfits for the show in a very short period of time, and assured her she would be the only designer in the show.
Shabayeva eventually agreed, despite concerns about the tight deadline and the volume of works the defendants required, but asked Prasad to provide at least 30 models for the runway, according to the complaint.
Prasad allegedly promised to book 25 models and two backup models for the show.
Relying on Prasad's promises, Shabayeva signed a sponsorship agreement with New York Fashion Shows, and started working around the clock to complete the outfits, the lawsuit states.
A few days after she signed the contract, however, Prasad allegedly revealed that Shabayeva would not be the only designer to show outfits at the Sept. 7 event.
Shabayeva says she also found out that the defendants had booked two different shows back-to-back, without her consent, to maximize ticket sales, according to the complaint.
To top it off, New York Fashion Shows delayed booking models for Shabayeva's show until a few days before the event, and was only able to find 17 models, who were not particularly suited for the collection, according to the complaint.
On Sept. 7, Shabayeva allegedly delivered the 80 outfits at Empire Hotel, the venue of the show, before the start of the event, and tried to work with the too-few models, who had to change outfits in inadequate conditions.
Shabayeva says she showed only about half of her collection during the opening show because of the small number of models the defendants had provided.
After the opening show, Shabayeva returned from photo sessions with guests and fans to find that the models were gone, according to the complaint.
Prasad had booked the models for only a single show that evening, and, despite her last-minute attempts, Shabayeva was unable to get replacements, according to the complaint.
Shabayeva claims Prasad had mistreated the models to such an extent that they refused to return for the main show.
She says that, after Prasad failed to fix the problem, she and her assistants became hostile, kicked some of Shabayeva's family members out of their seats, and threatened the safety of her collection and belongings.
Shabayeva claims Prasad and New York Fashion Shows publicly blamed her for the canceled show and failed to refund customers' money.
She says they denigrated her to the media, fans, clients and the public, hurting her brand and reputation.
The defendants falsely claimed that Shabayeva had had a "meltdown" and abandoned the show, according to the complaint.
New York Fashion Shows also filed a lawsuit against Shabayeva last month, alleging she had walked out with her entire collection before the show, and had stolen a $5,000 makeup kit. It asked for damages for breach of good faith, reimbursement of expenses and attorney's fees.
But Shabayeva's attorney, Kevin Malek with Malek Schiffrin, said the defendants were pointing the finger at Shabayeva to cover up their incompetence.
"New York Fashion Shows' lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to intimidate Ms. Shabayeva and to wrongfully blame her for their own misconduct," Malek said in an email.
Shabayeva seeks compensatory and punitive damages for fraud, breach of contract, negligence, defamation, unjust enrichment and negligent misrepresentation.
A representative for New York Fashion Shows did not return requests for comment.