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Page 3 Profile: Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, fashion designers


Another fabulous runway collection?

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana moved from the catwalk to the courtroom yesterday as they went on trial for tax evasion. The Italian designer duo are accused of owing tax on a figure of more than a billion euros (£808m) after moving their brands to a holding company in Luxembourg in 2004. Prosecutor Laura Pedio said the companies were sold for well below market value to avoid paying a huge corporate tax sum in Italy.

Well, tax evasion is more fashionable than ever before.

But jail time isn't. The pair, along with six other people on trial, could face up to five years in prison. They were cleared of tax cheating in 2011 following a four-year investigation, but a higher court overturned the acquittal. "Everyone knows that we haven't done anything," Gabbana said last June, threatening to leave the country. The designers deny the "absurd" allegations.

Why would the courts persecute Italy's national treasures?

Prime Minister Mario Monti has launched a crackdown on tax evasion. Inspectors have been probing the affairs of anyone brazen enough to own a Ferrari or Lamborghini, while luxury yachts have been raided. Diego Maradona is reported to owe €38m, though he said he wants to "find peace with the tax man". Previous cases involving showbiz figures ended in out-of-court settlements, so it's unlikely that Dolce and Gabbana will end up behind bars.