‘We are no longer willing to tolerate unfair accusations on behalf of the Italian Guardia di Finanza (Italian Tax Police) and the Agenzia delle Entrate (Internal Revenue Service), attacks from the Public Prosecutor and the media assault we have been subjected to. Not only for ourselves but, above all, for the people who work with us.’ Thus reads a letter released today by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.
Last month the design duo were found guilty of evading around €400 million (£342 million) on a €1 billion business deal through the sale of their D&G and Dolce & Gabbana brands to a holding company which they set up in Luxembourg in 2004. Prosecutors had called for the duo to be sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail. The judge in the case also ordered the designers to pay €500,000 each in damages.
Reuters report how the windows of the brand’s Milan boutiques carry the message ‘Closed for Indignation’ as well as an article from a newspaper in which Councillor Franco D’Alfonso suggests that the label shouldn’t be allowed to show its next collection in the city’s open spaces. “We don’t need to be represented by tax evaders,” D’Alfonso explained. He has since apologied for his remarks, saying they were “not given in an interview, but extrapolated from an informal conversation” and “certainly did not express the opinion of the administration.”
Today’s letter continues: ‘Finally, indignant with how we are being treated by the city of Milan, we have decided to close all our shops in the city (a total of nine retail stores) for the next three days starting today. We were born in Milan and have always been very grateful to this city. However, it must also be said that in the last 30 years we have given a great deal to this city: prestige and international visibility, jobs and economic development.’
Attached to the letter is a table showing the ‘important contributors’ to the city of Milan according to 2005 incomes, with Dolce and Gabbana in fourth and fifth place respectively. The designers have strenuously denied any wrongdoing, remaining defiant despite their prison sentences, and are planning to appeal.
In the letter the designers explain: ‘Just considering our stores in Milan, we provide jobs for over 250 people who, in the following days, will be properly remunerated even if our stores will stay closed. ‘Despite our passion and a sense of responsibility which push us to continue working with our usual dedication and drive, we are tired of being subjected to continuous slander and insults, which are detrimental to the serenity of our work place and distracting us from our work as designers.
‘We are very fortunate to work with people who are gifted with rare excellence, both from a technical-professional point of view and from a personal point of view; they believe in us and this situation is taking away their motivation. Dolce, 54, and Gabbana, 50, concluded the letter by writing: ‘The closing of our shops in Milan is a symbol of our disdain.’