Designer Suit Blocks Pic Bow

A Hamburg court has upheld a request by fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld to block distribution of Robert Altman’s film “Ready to Wear” (Pret-a-Porter) less than one week before its scheduled release in Germany.

Lagerfeld, irked by a one-liner in Altman’s fashion satire in which Forest Whitaker accuses the German of copycatting his designs, filed an application March 14 for a temporary injunction against the film’s Berlin-based distributor, Senator Film.

Senator Film then contested Lagerfeld’s suit, which asked a regional court judge to ban distribution of the film “if and only if the English word ‘thief’ or the German word ‘Dieb’ “was mentioned in reference to Lagerfeld, according to a court spokesman.

The court then upheld Lagerfeld’s complaint on Friday, on grounds of defamation of character, and further prevented Senator from allowing Lagerfeld to be called a “plagiarist” in the film.

Senator is now forced to scuttle its March 23 launch of the film or face a DM500,000 ($360,000) fine, unless the offending remark is edited out. The low court ruling can be appealed.

Neither Senator Film nor Lagerfeld’s Dusseldorf office returned calls.

A Lagerfeld spokeswoman in Paris declined comment, but one source close to the designer told Variety, “He knows he’s won, but he won’t comment right now.”

Lagerfeld’s attorney, Matthias Prinz, told German radio that the designer felt insulted, but would not seek damages, Reuters reported from Hamburg. Lagerfeld had previously told the Hamburger Morgen-post he thought it was “good” that the matter would be settled in court, and he dismissed the film as “completely boring.”

A Paris court rejected a similar attempt by the German to block the French release of “Ready to Wear,” which bowed strongly in early March, but lost nearly 40% of its audience in week two, after a roasting by the national press.

Separately, last week, Germany’s FBW, a federal agency in Wiesbaden that evaluates the general merit of films, placed Altman’s film in the seldom awarded category of “especially valuable.”

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