Dolce & Gabbana: from catwalk to courtroom

After nearly three decades building the global fashion brand D&G, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are now facing prison terms and, potentially, the end to their illustrious careers. They're our Italians of the Week.

Dolce & Gabbana: from catwalk to courtroom
Stefano Gabbana (L) and Domenico Dolce established D&G in 1985. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

Who are Dolce and Gabbana?

Sicilian Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, from Milan, are famed for creating the D&G fashion house, which since its founding in 1985 has expanded into 40 countries and in 2011 made €1.1 billion. The pair were jointly ranked as the 11th richest in Italy, behind former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and chocolatier Michele Ferrero. 

How did they find fame and fortune?

Dolce is the son of a tailor and grew up surrounded by chats about cloth and style. Gabbana's childhood in the country's fashion capital inspired him to enter the industry; by the time he met the D to his G the pair already had their minds set on creating collections.

The self-made millionaires met when Dolce was working as an assistant to a designer in Milan and Gabbana called to ask for a job. They agreed to meet at a party that night, the pair told The Telegraph newspaper, cringing at the memory of Dolce dressed up as a priest.

Gabbana forgave him for following the unusual fashion choice and their working relationship soon developed into romance.

This sounds risky; how did their relationship affect D&G?

The romance lasted for more than 20 years, until the pair separated in 2005. 

"When Domenico and I split up the sadness was in my heart and my mind, not my clothes…I was sad and it (wealth) didn't change my sadness into happiness," Gabanna told the Observer newspaper.

"The love story of me and Domenico is not finished, there are many different loves and now we are best friends," he added.

Dolce and Gabbana continue to work side by side; the continued success of the brand is testamant to their strength as a design duo.

Why are they in the news?

This week the pair swapped the catwalk for the courtroom, as they were found guilty of tax evasion and sentenced to one year and eight months in prison. They were also ordered to pay a fine of €500,000 to Italy’s national tax agency, for transferring control of D&G to a shell company in Luxembourg, allegedly to avoid paying €200,000 in Italian tax.

Gabbana took to Twitter in April to protest his innocence: "All that I care about is making clothes, that's all. Let them do and say whatever they want. To be accused of something that's not true is not a pretty thing, but the heart of the matter is, who cares, we'll all end up in the ground in the end," he said.

Is this the end of D&G?

Under Italian law the sentence is suspended while Dolce and Gabbana appeal, so they won’t have to design their black and white stripes with matching ball and chain just yet. Besides, the pair have over 3,000 people working for them so the brand will continue if they are to take a ‘sabbatical’.

Who’s in their entourage?

Through their work Dolce and Gabbana have a habit of attracting the biggest names in music. Kylie, Madonna and the late Whitney Houston have all performed draped in D&G. This is no mean feat; Madonna’s 1993 world tour demanded 1,500 costumes. 

Last year the pair produced a book about young football players, with photographs taken by Dolce. They also sponsor A.C. Milan football club, ensuring a male and female following.

Do they do more than dresses?

Yes. Since their first self-produced collection and fashion show, Real Women, in 1986, the pair have expanded in every fashionable direction. The pair have produced books, perfumes, sunglasses and smartphone cases, to name but a few. In 2006 they opened the Dolce&Gabbana GOLD Restaurant in Milan, giving fashionistas the chance to show off their designer wear.

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Switzerland and Italy hope to deliver cross-border worker tax deal ‘by 2021’

Switzerland and Italy have pledged to conclude a long-awaited tax arrangement for cross-border workers by the end of the year.

Switzerland and Italy hope to deliver cross-border worker tax deal ‘by 2021’

At a meeting in Rome between Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the two leaders said progress was being made on a cross-border tax arrangement. 

The agreement, originally negotiated in 2015, has as yet not been signed by either state. 

READ: How Switzerland avoided a coronavirus 'catastrophe' by protecting cross-border workers 

A 1974 agreement between the two countries doesn’t define cross-border worker. 

Sommaruga praised Switzerland’s decision to reject an initiative which would have restricted migration from EU countries and perhaps had impacts on cross-border workers. 

“In last Sunday's referendum, the Swiss people once again said that they want the free movement of people. It is a good thing for our country but it is also a good thing for the whole of Europe,” she said. 

“With neighbouring countries, Switzerland has adopted a regional approach excluding border regions and also cross-border workers from the quarantine regime. 

“I hope we can continue like this.”

While Switzerland rejected the migration limitation initiative, Ticino was one of four of Switzerland’s 26 cantons to vote in favour. 

Conte told reporters he hoped a deal was concluded “as soon as possible” and hoped it would be concluded by 2021. 

Conte hailed Italian cross-border workers as essential to the health system in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. 

READ: How Switzerland's cross-border workers are growing in number 

In the canton of Ticino, one in five healthcare workers lives over the border in Italy – approximately 4,000 people. Ticino’s population swells from approximately 360,000 people to 440,000 during an average work day due to cross-border workers from Italy.

Unlike with Italy, Switzerland has struck a tax deal for cross-border workers from neighbouring France, which was amended during the coronavirus pandemic.