Last Friday, Eliana Tranchesi, 56 years-old, former owner of the Brazilian luxury boutique Daslu passed away in São Paulo, due to a lung cancer.
In Brazil, Daslu is a reference for luxury and high fashion, but the story of the brand has been marked with opulence and controversies.
It all started in 1958 when Eliana's mother, Lucia Piva, and a friend, Lourdes Aranha, started selling clothes to the São Paulo elite from Lucia's own living room. The name "Daslu" (or "from the Lu" in English) is a reference to the nickname "Lu" that was common to both partners (Lucia and Lourdes) who founded the store.
The business was later taken over by Eliana and her brother. Daslu became its own high-end clothing label and in 1996, the first fashion luxury brand, Chanel, was brought to the boutique and the first international shop-in-shop opened. From there, other brands like Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Valentino joined the exclusive boutique.
In 2005, Daslu moved to a new address and transformed the store into Villa Daslu, a "luxury mall" with more than 70 luxury shop-in-shops of the finest high-fashion brands, in addition to the Daslu boutique.
The building and opening of Villa Daslu raised controversies in the media. The most iconic display of the Brazilian elite was located in Vila Olimpia, in São Paulo, right next to the Coliseu favela (or shanty town).
The year 2005 marked not only a profitable opening of Villa Daslu, with a turnover accounted to be over US$ 230 million, but also the start of operation Narciso by the Federal Police, which investigated Eliana for the crime of tax evasion on imports of Daslu.
On July 13, 2005, after a 10-months investigation, three hundred federal police and tax agents raided the store and its offices in four Brazilian states. Eliana was arrested but released on the same day. Her brother, Antonio Carlos Piva Albuquerque, and Daslu former accountant, Celso de Lima, were also arrested, but released five days later.
On December 13, 2006, Daslu was fined approximately US$112 million for a tax evasion scheme dating back to the year 2000.
On March 26, 2009, Eliana and her brother were sentenced to 94 years and 6 months in prison for smuggling, organized crime and tax evasion.
On its decision, Judge Maria Isabel do Prado said that "the accused committed crimes on a regular basis, as a true-way of life, in other words, literally professional criminals".
In 2011, Villa Daslu was closed and the company was bought by Laep Investments Fund that became obligated for a US$ 47 million debt, excluding the near US$ 293 million debt to the IRS, passed on to Eliana's heirs.
Today, Daslu has two stores in high end malls in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
The controversies throughout Daslu history did not stop even after Eliana's death. "Jornal da Noite" newscast anchor Boris Casoy from Band claimed that the Brazilian government has "killed" Eliana by putting too much effort in the investigations, aggravating her cancer. The anchor's provocative statement was a complete nonsense and one-sided political attack by implying that high fashion and big money are mitigating circumstances for crimes.