Dolce and Gabbana to meet Milan mayor after week of polemics

Designers indignant after being called 'notorious tax evaders'

Dolce and Gabbana to meet Milan mayor after week of polemics

Milan, July 24 - Fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana will meet Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia after closing their stores in the city's fashion district for three days to protest comments by a municipal trade councillor calling them ''notorious tax evaders'', the duo said on Wednesday. The designers said in interviews published Wednesday that they accepted Pisapia's invite saying they were ''tired of the controversy and excessive media exposure''. In statements to Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica, the pair known for their sexy, baroque style favoured by socialites and celebrities also said they were ''fed up with being treated like (tax) evaders''. Last month, an Italian court sentenced the fashion designers to one year and eight months in prison for tax evasion in a case that dates back to 2004 when two of the company's top brands were sold to Luxembourg holding group Gado, allegedly to avoid paying taxes on revenues from the two labels' activities. The pair was also sentenced to pay a fine of 400 million euros. The designers, who have announced they will appeal, subsequently decided to close their stores in the heart of Milan's fashion district - via della Spiga and Corso Venezia - after D'Alfonso said ''spaces that are a city symbol should not be granted to famous people and VIP brands that have been convicted of crimes that are particularly odious, like tax evasion, at this time of financial crisis''. On Wednesday, Dolce and Gabbana told Corriere that if Italy's highest appeals court, the Cassation, were to uphold the fine of 400 million euros they would be forced to close their business: ''We would close. We would not be able to resist''. They also said they had ''never been at war'' with the mayor, a former attorney and promoter of civil liberties of defendents, and would ''listen to what he has to say'' . (ANSA)

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