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Diego Della Valle, Giorgio Armani Face Off on Restorations

Designer shoots back at Tod’s chief over calls to support Italian historical sites.

MILAN — Diego and Giorgio are at it again.

On Monday, Giorgio Armani shot back at Tod’s chief Diego Della Valle, who over the weekend urged him to help support the restoration of Italian historic sites, such as Milan’s Castello Sforzesco.

“I don’t need anyone telling me what I have to do. And I’ve always done what I wanted to do,” said Armani. “I’m perplexed. Why does he take the liberty to attack me a second time on private matters?”

In 2011, Della Valle first took on Armani, who had criticized Prada for its initial public offering, and said that he should “not waste time in useless attacks,” but rather “invest in the territory.” Following his own example with the restoration of the Colosseum, Della Valle at the time prompted Armani to approach other sites in need of work, such as the 15th century Castello Sforzesco.

Remembering how Della Valle called him a “sprightly old man” the first time around, Armani, who was speaking before his signature fashion show, took a jab at the entrepreneur, saying he was “sure to be a doctor or a lawyer.”

“I restored Villa Necchi years ago for 3 billion lire with my own money, not that of shareholders — do you understand?” said Armani, pointing to the fact that the Colosseum is being restored with the help of the Tod’s Group, which is listed on the Milan Stock Exchange. With a touch of irony, Tod’s has held presentations at the early 20th century Villa Necchi and its museum for years.

“Della Valle has spoken a lot about the restoration of the Colosseum, but these are things best said in an undertone. He falls into the trap of doing things for his bags,” remarked Armani. “I am not interested in good or bad faith, I stick to the facts. We do many things silently here and abroad; we sponsor a children’s school that educates about art in New York, for example. I receive requests for financial contributions every day — from magazines too, ‘Why don’t you buy that table?’ Perhaps one day, when I will have the foundation, it will be easier to handle as others will manage it.”

Armani first talked about a foundation last year as one of the possibilities to control and ensure a future for his company. Asked to elaborate Monday, Armani said that it had been “a very busy year” and that he requested “specialists to make inquiries. It could be something similar to Prada’s, which engages each time on different projects.”

Later at Armani’s show, French swimmer Camille Lacourt said he is temporarily leaving his usual training base of Marseille in southern France for Melbourne in Australia, where he will spend the next few months preparing for the European Championships in 2014. “I wanted to see something new and experience a different culture,” he explained.

Chinese musician and former Miss World Zhang Zhilin said she walked for the designer’s Privé show seven years ago, a week after winning the beauty pageant. “It was a dream come true, such a big surprise,” she said.