MILAN — Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are to stand trial in court on Dec. 3.
Because they are charged with omitted and unfaithful earnings declaration, they are not to go through a preliminary hearing. The designers were originally absolved of the claims by a lower court in April 2011, but the Italian Supreme Court in November overturned that decision.
In February, the court laid out the reasons why it decided to reopen the case, alleging Dolce and Gabbana and several business associates evaded taxes. The Supreme Court said tax avoidance, or tax mitigation, on an earnings declaration is a criminal offense under the law. This is a major ruling since tax avoidance — which allows taxpayers to take advantage of certain benefits, such as creating a separate legal entity to which one’s property is donated, for example — previously was not considered a crime.
The designers did not respond to a request for comment at press time Monday.
The investigations began in 2008, initiated by the Guardia di Finanza, an Italian police force under the authority of the national minister of economy and finance. Both designers were charged with alleged tax evasion to the tune of 416 million euros, or $538.1 million at current exchange, related to the 2004 sale of the Dolce & Gabbana and D&G brands to the designers’ Luxembourg-based holding company, Gado Srl. The Italian tax police reportedly consider Gado essentially a legal entity used to avoid higher corporate taxes in Italy.
A separate criminal probe into supposed tax irregularities at the Dolce & Gabbana Group was part of the case dismissed in April. Those accusations address unpaid taxes of 200 million euros, or $258.7 million.
Giuseppe Bana, lawyer for the designers’ accountant Luciano Patelli, told WWD on Monday that he was “extremely optimistic” about the outcome of the trial, but said more details were going to be made available the following day.
A legal source said the trial will not allow for plea bargaining or the request for shortened or other alternative proceedings.
“I am optimistic and I consider them innocent until proven guilty,” said Armando Branchini, deputy chairman of Milan consultancy InterCorporate. “It is easier to make headlines with an important and world famous name. Yes, it’s true that the fight against tax evasion is more severe now, but this seems a bit excessive.”
The designers have always denied any wrongdoing and in an interview with WWD in December, they expressed clear consciences and a lack of bitterness, albeit disappointment, over their battle with Italian authorities concerning the alleged tax evasion.
In April 2011, deeming there was no foundation for a trial, Judge Simone Luerti dismissed the charges against Dolce and Gabbana and five other defendants, including Dolce’s brother and board member, Alfonso Dolce, and managing director and board member Cristiana Ruella. However, Milan-based prosecutor Laura Pedio appealed to the Supreme Court, which issued its ruling after about six months.
Conviction of national income tax evasion can carry up to a three-year prison sentence, or a fine of up to 1 million euros, or $1.3 million at current exchange.
“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