MILAN — Roberto Cavalli has been globe-trotting lately to celebrate various milestones and stores, but his next stop could be at a Florence courthouse.
Italy’s tax authorities have accused the flamboyant designer of tax evasion. They allege that Cavalli dodged fiscal responsibilities by booking $2.1 million to $2.6 million in charges to restructure his luxurious Tuscan home as company expenses for the fiscal years 1996 through 2000. Cavalli’s lawyer Alessandro Traversi confirmed the allegation, but a spokeswoman for Roberto Cavalli SpA declined to comment.
(Dollar figures have been converted from the lira at current euro-dollar exchange rates.)
The estate boasts two swimming pools, a collection of animal-print rugs and several centuries-old Madonna statues.
Cavalli’s lawyers defend the renovations as valid company expenses because the designer’s lifestyle is intricately linked to the success of his fashion house.
"We maintain that [the renovations of the villa] are promotional expenses for the brand," Traversi said. "These are things you need to give a designer the right image."
The trial, slated to kick off July 10, is set to become an all-star extravaganza. Traversi bragged that the defense has a list of some 20 celebrities — including Cindy Crawford, Sylvester Stallone and Pamela Anderson — willing to testify on the designer’s behalf.
But if the pleas of the rich and famous fall on deaf ears, Cavalli may need to rethink his wardrobe, from the famous zebra print to stripes. If convicted, the designer could face a possible sentence of 18 months to six years in the slammer.
Cavalli is not the first designer to tangle with Italian tax authorities. Tax evasion is rampant in Italy — where income tax rates can rise as high as 45 percent — and under-the-table transactions are commonplace.
Gianfranco Ferré, Santo Versace, Mariuccia Mandelli of Krizia and their business associates were indicted in July 1995 on charges of corruption and bribing tax police in return for swift, trouble-free audits. While they were originally found guilty, a higher court overturned the verdict and found that they were victims of extortion.
At that time, Giorgio Armani, Gerolamo Etro and Krizia chairman Aldo Pinto were also indicted on similar charges, but pleaded guilty without testifying in May 1996 before the trial began. They, too, said they were victims of extortion, but took plea bargains to end their cases as soon as possible.
“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