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'Project Runway' Star Christian Siriano Sued Over Shoes

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on November 22, 2011 12:02 PM

"Fierce" reality show winner and fashion designer Christian Siriano has been sued by his talent agency. The Project Runway star turned Payless ShoeSource designer allegedly stopped paying his agency.

Siriano, known for his flair and his "hot tranny mess" catchphrase he often uttered on Runway, landed a deal with Payless in 2008 to create footwear for the company's 4,500 stores.

His agency, Designer's Management Agency, says that they negotiated the deal and was orally promised a 20% commission. The agency says that Siriano received $35,000 from Payless as a design fee, and gets a 2.5% royalty for total sales. His contract with Payless also nets him $50,000 each for the Fall and Spring collections, and $30,000 each for the Summer and Holiday collections.

If you're wondering why someone can get so much money just to design shoes, take a gander at your local department store's shoe racks. Shoes can make or break an outfit. And a bottom line. They're important.

So important that apparently Designer's Management Agency says that they are missing about $53,000 of their 20% commission. The agency says that Siriano requested to be directly paid from Payless in February 2010. After that, the agency stopped receiving commissions, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

But whether or not it's possible for Designer's Management Agency to enforce its oral agreement is a whole other matter. Typically, oral contracts are valid unless they violate the statute of frauds. Oral agreements may also be enforced if another party partially complied with its terms, or one party relied on the promise to their detriment.

It's very possible that the agency was relying on the Project Runway star's Payless money. And the designer even partially complied with handing over commissions until he asked to be paid directly. One thing is for sure, now that Christian Siriano has been sued, he probably won't be describing his upcoming legal battle as "fierce."

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