Last June, the Italian news media went into a frenzy when the Financial Guard — Italy’s financial police — revealed embezzlement, tax evasion and false bankruptcy charges against former Limoni executives Piofrancesco Borghetti and Nazzareno Brandoni, and the arrest of Limoni supplier Antonio Lemma, owner of perfumery Vapro International and chief executive officer of First American Brands, or FAB. Lemma’s wife, also initially held, was quickly released.
Arrested without receiving a formal notice of investigation, Lemma spent six months in a Como jail and under house arrest, before his release on Dec. 3. The prosecution, led by Giuseppe Rose, has since withdrawn the fraudulent bankruptcy charges against Lemma, but the case is still open and other charges remain, according to legal documents.
With the next hearing slated for December, it’s likely the legal proceedings will drag on: One of Lemma’s lawyers, Emanuele Caimi, explained that, in Italy, trials are usually reviewed before three magistrates and not a citizen jury like in the U.S. Once the magistrates issue their verdict, one appeal is possible on merit and one on legitimacy with the Italian Supreme Court, or Cassazione.
Lemma denies any wrongdoing, and told WWD the accusations and media circus have tainted his career and hurt his family, in addition to costing him hefty legal fees.
“I absolutely reject the charges brought against me by the public prosecutor and the Financial Guard,” said Lemma. “The accusation of tax evasion in particular was based on a false statement, and it was insulting.”
Caimi called the investigation “superficial.”
According to legal documents from the Financial Guard, the authorities questioned the existence of Lemma’s FAB, which previously had been headquartered in California. The Guard also claimed it could not locate any Social Security number or any tax returns for FAB. The Guard’s implication appeared to be that FAB was a pseudo-American operation set up so the Italian Vapro International could avoid paying taxes at home. WWD has acquired copies of FAB’s American tax returns filed from Dec. 31, 2000 through Dec. 31, 2011.
A spokesman from the Como Financial Guard said at present it had no further comment on the case.
Lemma, who has lived in New York since 2003, said that Vapro suffered losses during the international economic crisis of 2008. He also said he was using money from the more financially stable FAB to cover Vapro’s debts, but that when Limoni abruptly canceled all orders and stopped its payments to FAB, he was forced to declare bankruptcy for Vapro.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast