GIANNI GETS EVEN: Gianni Versace has received a formal apology from the Independent on Sunday newspaper, which has also agreed to pay the designer $158,000 in damages and legal costs to avoid a libel suit.
The newspaper admitted in print that an article by writer Fiametta Rocco, which it ran last fall, “contained a number of false statements about the Versace companies and family.” The paper apologized for alleging that Versace’s London store was unprofitable and was merely a front, and that the Versaces could not support their lifestyle by legitimate means.
It also withdrew the allegation that the companies and family “operate in a corrupt manner.”
“We apologize unreservedly to the Versace family and the Versace group of companies for the distress and embarrassment which the article has caused them,” the Independent said.

GIORGIO MOVES OUT: Giorgio Armani revealed that for the first time since October 1989 he won’t be showing his collection in his in-house theater on Via Borgonuovo. Instead, Armani will show in a cavernous industrial space called the Ansaldo on Via Bergognone during the Milan fashion week, which starts March 4.
The main motivation for the change was the need for a space where he can easily seat 1,200 people for a single show, Armani said. “Borgonuovo is getting just a bit cramped,” he explained. “It is still a great space to show, but when I returned from Los Angeles I found I wanted to do something in Milan that had a little more impact. I find splitting up the two shows, with mostly journalists and people who are there for work at the first show, makes the mood a little cold. By mixing everybody together, I hope to generate a little more enthusiasm. There will be those writing, of course, but there will also be those applauding, and that is much more gratifying to me,” he said.
Armani said he had reached an agreement with Milan’s City Hall to use the space between now and October, including possibly for his men’s show in July, for a token amount of $31,000 (50 million lire). Armani said he expects to spend an additional $112,000 (180 million lire) in technical renovations.
“Now the space is essentially mine for whatever use I want to make of it,” said Armani, noting that he would probably collaborate with city officials to use the space for art and other exhibits when he isn’t using it for his shows.

BAD GERMAN WINTER: At retail, anyway. Two big German department stores, Kaufhof Warenhaus and Horten Galeria, are offering “drastic” price cuts on winter merchandise. The companies said apparel prices have been slashed 50 to 80 percent — a huge sale by European standards — to move winter goods off the shelves to make room for spring inventory. Kaufhof has 74 stores, and Horten has 57 branches.

IT’S OVER DOWN UNDER FOR ASHLEY: Laura Ashley plans to leave Australia by the end of the year. The company intends to close all of its 23 stores there, eliminating 132 jobs. Ashley has been in Australia for more than a decade, but the stores have not been a winning proposition, losing an average of $1.56 million annually. “The business in Australia could be bought or the stores franchised out,” said an Ashley spokesman. “The situation is still very tentative.”

BEAUTY BILLIONS: Consolidated sales of French beauty giant L’Oréal rose 18.5 percent in 1994 to $8.98 billion (47.6 billion francs), including the second-half results of several subsidiaries — Cosmair USA Inc., Cosmair Canada Inc., Lorsa Fagel of Switzerland and 49 percent of Procasa of Spain — which were consolidated into L’Oréal’s accounts as of last July. Adding in the full year results of these subsidiaries, L’Oréal’s total 1994 sales would have been $9.75 billion (51.7 billion francs). L’Oréal said that on a directly comparable basis, group consolidated sales increased 8 percent, reflecting “improved internal growth compared with 1993.” It also said that group profits are not yet final, “but as predicted, they should rise by slightly more than the increase in sales.”