Galliano Aftermath: What is Next for the Designer and will the Fashion World Stand Behind Him?
It has been less than a week since news of designer John Galliano’s booze-fueled rant broke, but already the brilliant British designer’s career is in ruins after being dismissed yesterday from the house of Dior. Galliano is the latest public figure to learn the hard way that your private life cannot easily be separated from the public. While the ink still hasn’t settled on his walking papers, sources claim that Galliano plans to challenge his dismissal and has enlisted the help of London lawyer Gerrard Tyrrell—the lawyer that represented Kate Moss during her cocaine scandal. The International Herald Tribune’s Suzy Menkes also reports that friends of Galliano’s said they have “finally persuaded the troubled designer to go immediately into rehab, and that the pace of fashion today, and particularly the rigorous structure of a corporate fashion house, broke the fragile, artistic creator.” The latest reports say that the designer has in fact left France and is headed for the Meadows, a rehab facility in Arizona that has also treated Donatella Versace.
We may never know what drove the troubled designer to launch his angry attacks, but one thing is certain, the scandal has left the fashion world reeling. Although his dismissal has generally been met with approval from the majority of the fashion community, it has also sparked conflicted reactions as close friends and colleagues are tormented with sadness and pity over Galliano’s fate.
Backstage at Milan Fashion Week designer Roberto Cavalli spoke out to The Telegraph in support of Galliano, albeit before the damning video was released. “I don’t believe it. Because I know John since many years, he’s such a wonderful person. I can’t believe that he makes some racist comments toward somebody, because he’s so international . . . I think that somebody wants to try to be bad with him. I think la Maison Dior should make for him a big red carpet because he helped Maison Dior to be what it is today. I don’t want to judge anybody, but I love John and John, I am with you.”
The Telegraph’s Hilary Alexander similarly took a rather sympathetic stance, “What devils possessed Galliano we may never know. What private hell he is living through is equally unknowable. But one thing is certain: he needs help. I am not for a moment excusing his behaviour. There will come a time when he must confront the viper in his breast. But, right now, this is a moment in his life when he needs support and love from the industry he has given his life to.”
Although fashion insiders remain conflicted over the designer’s future, his behaviour has generated almost universal condemnation from the public. Unlike other designers’ struggles with addiction and personal demons, his very public displays of racism and anti-Semitism will undoubtedly be hard to move past. With Paris Fashion Week just beginning, the front row has already been buzzing with rumors of his replacement. Rumor has it Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci has been pegged as Galliano’s successor—which isn’t all that surprising considering Galliano himself stared at Givenchy before moving to the house of Dior in 1996. It has also been confirmed that Galliano’s eponymous label will show as planned on Sunday during Paris Fashion Week, it is not clear though if the designer will be present.
UPDATE: After remaining silent since last weeks scandal broke, Galliano has now released a statement through law firm Harbottle and Lewis apologizing for his racist tirade that cost him his position at Dior. See the full statement below:
“Since the events of last Thursday evening I have not been able to make any public comment on what took place based upon advice from my French lawyer. However, given the continuing delays at the French Prosecutor’s Office I should make my position clear.
I completely deny the claims made against me and have fully co-operated with the Police investigation.
A number of independent witnesses have given evidence and have told the Police that I was subjected to verbal harassment and an unprovoked assault when an individual tried to hit me with a chair having taken violent exception to my look and my clothing. For these reasons I have commenced proceedings for defamation and the threats made against me.
However, I fully accept that the accusations made against me have greatly shocked and upset people.
I must take responsibility for the circumstances in which I found myself and for allowing myself to be seen to be behaving in the worst possible light. I only have myself to blame and I know that I must face up to my own failures and that I must work hard to gain people’s understanding and compassion. To start this process I am seeking help and all I can hope for in time is to address the personal failure which led to these circumstances and try and earn people’s forgiveness.
I have fought my entire life against prejudice, intolerance and discrimination having been subjected to it myself. In all my work my inspiration has been to unite people of every race, creed, religion and sexuality by celebrating their cultural and ethnic diversity through fashion. That remains my guiding light.
Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologise for my behaviour in causing any offence.”