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Memo Pad: Tax Probe... Heels 'R' Us... Running Off The Runway...

Dolce & Gabbana SpA reportedly has been fined for tax evasion.

By and and and
Victoria Beckham on the cover of British Vogue

Victoria Beckham on the cover of British Vogue.

Photo By WWD Staff

TAX PROBE: Dolce & Gabbana SpA reportedly has been fined for tax evasion. According to today's edition of Italian current affairs weekly L'Espresso, Italian tax authorities have ordered Dolce & Gabbana to pay a fine of 2 million euros, or $3 million at current exchange, for allegedly not declaring sales of stock to distributors via a satellite company. The company in question, Sto.Tex Srl, which is 80 percent owned by the fashion house and which sells company merchandise to distributors according to the article, allegedly resold more than 100,000 items of stock off the books. Dolce & Gabbana declined to comment on the allegations Thursday. Italian tax authorities could not be reached for comment at press time.

The article also reported that investigators were seeking more than 20 million euros, or $30.4 million, in unpaid monies from Salvatore Ferragamo SpA, related to its Holland-based holding company. However, Ferragamo issued a statement Thursday evening saying it had been cleared of the charges on appeal in January and reserved the right to legal action against L'Espresso for misrepresentation of the facts. Ferragamo said it had proven on appeal that its holding company, Ferragamo International B.V., was a fully consolidated part of the group, and not, as fiscal authorities had alleged, little more than a legal entity, which the fashion house used to avoid paying higher corporate taxes in Italy. — Andrew Roberts

HEELS 'R' US: So what's really standing between Victoria Beckham and a daily workout at the gym? Laziness? Fear of bulking up? Verrucas? Actually, it's footwear. She tells British Vogue in the upcoming April issue that she's joined a gym, but can't bear to go. "I would never put my health at risk. Obviously, working out is important. Well, I don't. What do you wear on the running machine? I can't bring myself to wear flat shoes," says Beckham.

British Vogue editor in chief Alexandra Shulman, who conducted the interview, notes Beckham is "fully aware she's parodying herself — her common default position when questioned."

Speaking of shoes, Beckham also reveals a top tip for gals who have to have a certain pair of shoes — even if they're too big. "If they don't have my size, I just stick toilet paper in — if that's what it takes to get a nice shoe." The issue goes on sale Monday. — Samantha Conti
RUNNING OFF THE RUNWAY?: Should there be another season of "Project Runway"? Depends on who you ask. Judge and mentor Tim Gunn, of course, believes the show has infinite life. "Independent of my old age, I think the show could go on forever," Gunn said at a viewing party in TriBeCa Wednesday night for the show's finale.

But past contestants at the party believe the show's producers should come up with a new formula. "Personally, watching it, they need to change the format or something to refresh the love people have for the show," said finalist Jillian Lewis, who felt the show could last, "maybe another season or two. I love the show, but now it feels it's easier to predict what's going to happen."

Even this season's winner, Christian Siriano, believes "Project Runway" needs a new project. "This was a really hard season to beat, and I'm kinda worried about next season, because I feel like it'll be compared to our season," he said. "I'm thinking they need to change it up, but I don't want them to change it for the better 'cause then I'll be jealous." Bravo is currently casting for season five's contestants.

And what next for this season's winner? Siriano's winning line may be showing up at Henri Bendel or selling on his Web site — "that is, unless Victoria [Beckham] buys the whole collection, which she very well might," the designer said of Posh, who guest judged on the finale and publicly declared she would like to wear his clothing. Siriano said he has an appointment to meet with Beckham next week. "It's all the prize I needed — though winning was fierce, too."

If the former Spice Girl doesn't claim the whole 12-piece collection for her own, Siriano plans to take special orders, including for "more sellable pieces" on his Web site, on which pieces will retail from $200 to $2,000. He also plans to create a separate line for Bluefly.com, a sponsor of the show, but that's not the final destination for the 22-year-old. "The line I showed at fashion week, I don't know if it's for the Bluefly customer — I would rather have it at Bergdorf and Barneys," he said.
As for fashion week in September, he already has financing for a show, both from friends and a benefit in Baltimore, adding to the $100,000 award he got for winning "Project Runway." "Next season I want my show to be as special as possible and that will, sad to say, take more than $100,000," he said. — Whitney Beckett and Stephanie D. Smith

THEIR PIECE OF MANHATTAN: Paper Denim & Cloth wants to become as synonymous with the Lower East Side of Manhattan as Levi's is to all of the U.S. So the company has hired an outside agency for a brand overhaul and to create an ad campaign that will make its debut this fall. The company has tapped New York-based agency tar art, which is led by Evanly Schindler, the founder of BlackBook magazine, but which includes a marketing and branding division lead by former Diesel executive Maurizio Marchiori.

To begin, Schindler changed the brand's logo so the letters P, D and C become elements of the ampersand symbol. He also cast a group of downtown personalities, including artists Jamie Johnson and Michael Portnoy and 33 Bond gallery owner Alix Frey, for the look book photographed by Paola Kudacki. Whether the ad campaign will include shots of the Brooklyn Bridge remains to be seen. — A.W.

SELF-PROMOTION: What's one way for a publicity firm to promote its clients outside of generating coverage in press outlets? How about coverage in its own? Starworks, the publicity and brand management firm, has launched a blog on its site, starworksny.com, where clients and staffers opine about their personal passions. Contributors include Daphne Guinness, Greg K from the MisShapes (who is also a Starworks executive) and Starworks staffers, some of whom are former staffers at Harper's Bazaar, Jane and other publications.

Though the outlet allows the firm to promote its clients — and the things its clients love — Starworks founder James Grant insists the blog isn't deliberately self-serving. "The mandate to all our contributors is to document their individual takes and experiences with pop culture," he said. "The blog naturally manifests into a daily diary that illuminates the international Starworks lifestyle and culture." Recent entries have included pickups on magazines in which Starworks has garnered placements, as well as the Oscars, the death of the Polaroid camera and scenes from hipster-filled parties staffers have attended. The blog has been up and running since October, and, according to Grant, has gathered 10,000 hits a month. — S.D.S.