MILAN — Romeo Gigli is no stranger to courthouse feuds and, in the latest, the designer has filed a suit against clothing group IT Holding, Prandina SpA, Gigli’s licensee, and its chief executive officer, Italian entrepreneur Pierluigi Mancinelli.

Gigli’s much-publicized suit against his former partners, Donato Maino and Carla Sozzani, made headlines here in the early Nineties. In the latest case, the designer is claiming that IT Holding, which previously owned his namesake business, owes him $54.2 million, or 45 million euros at current exchange rates, as a reimbursement for royalties and consultancy fees.

IT Holding’s chairman and ceo Tonino Perna sold Gigli’s business to the Luxembourg-based company Euroholding four months ago. Euroholding licensed the Gigli line to men’s wear production company Prandina SpA, but following this transaction, Gigli was no longer involved in its design. A spokesman for IT Holding said the group was “unfazed and serene. We believe we did not go beyond what the contract allowed us.”

He added, “We believe [Romeo Gigli’s] requests are unfounded.”

Gigli was not reachable for comment.

In a telephone interview, Mancinelli confirmed Gigli’s legal action against Prandina and himself. “Gigli has asked us to suspend production and distribution of the Romeo Gigli brand, but although he claims intellectual ownership [of the brand], the designer has no longer any rights over his namesake label,” said Mancinelli, who also said he was “surprised” by this move. “Mr. Perna invested a lot in the [Gigli] brand and the designer had the opportunity to relaunch it — this move damages what was once a good relationship.”

The first men’s collection produced by Prandina bowed for spring-summer 2005. Mancinelli said he is fine-tuning the agreement with a manufacturing company for the production of the women’s collection, which is slated to debut in Milan during the women’s runway shows at the end of September. Both will be tagged Romeo Gigli Milano and both are designed by a team.

Last April, Perna said the sale of Gigli’s business was “consistent with IT Holding’s focus on strategic businesses with high potential.” The group owns the Gianfranco Ferré and Malo labels, among others, and holds licenses for D&G, Versus and Just Cavalli.

This story first appeared in the September 1, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

IT Holding retains Gigli’s 10-year licenses for eyewear, timepieces and fragrances without any royalty payments. It has the option to renew those licenses for another 10 years.

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