It’s the end of an era at the House of Dior. John Galliano, who had been the head designer of Christian Dior since 1997, got fired today after allegations of a Mel Gibson style, racist, anti-Semitic drunken tirade at a café in Paris. Sidney Toledano, Dior’s president and CEO, said “I condemn most firmly the statements made by John Galliano which are a total contradiction with the essential values that have always been defended by the House of Christian Dior.”
Couture-gate comes on the heels of a video released just yesterday of a group of people taunting the designer at a Paris café, slamming the couturier with more allegations of anti-Semitism. In the clip, a calm Galliano is obviously wasted, slurring his way through insults such as “Your bag is ugly” and “I love Hitler.” Dior felt pressure to fire Galliano after Academy Award winner and face of Dior Cherie perfume released a statement to the New York Times saying that she was “disgusted and shocked” and “ will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.”
Franca Sozzani, Editor in Chief of Vogue Italia, had this to say about Mr. Galliano’s tirade: “An explosion was more than probable when you add together the amount of alcohol Galliano had consumed and the provocations of the people speaking to him. Of course we condemn the extremely seriously racist content of what he said…” but he “was clearly provoked, and filmed, while obviously inebriated.”
Dior may have been looking for a way to push Galliano out for some time now, since he’s been with the house for fourteen years. But who has the technical facility to deliver ready-to-wear and, importantly, couture with the same virtuosity as Galliano? In many ways, his name began to eclipse the brand, which no luxury fashion house takes kindly to. We saw the same situation with Hedi Slimane of Dior Homme, who left the label amid much controversy when his name meant more than “Dior Homme.”
It’s hard to believe that John Galliano, perhaps the most talented designer working today, who has literally dressed everybody, and who is responsible for some of the most beautiful, creative, and imaginative couture we have ever seen, could be responsible for such an ugly, racist tirade. Especially given that Galliano himself is sort of a mutt— Gibraltarian and Andalusian. I totally condemn racism of any kind, but this whole thing seems to me like a set up. People do and say dumb stuff when they’re plastered out of their minds. Clearly this video was meant to stir the pot and get Galliano in even deeper trouble than he was already in.
With Paris Fashion Week just getting started, and the Christian Dior runway show set for this Friday, it will be interesting to see how the fashion industry responds to the Galliano firing. Who will have who’s back? What does Anna Wintour think? Marc Jacobs? And, really, what does Daphne Guinness think?
This couture-gate firing is temporary, because at the end of the day, fashion is a multi-billion dollar business. It’s about what sells, and it’s hard to believe that with all the other neuroses plaguing fashion people that Galliano will be totally cut off. Remember when Terry Richardson got naked and started “waggling the biggest dick I’d ever seen dangerously close to my unclothed person” in front of a model? Magazines blacklisted him, but not for long. Or the Kate Moss and cocaine thing? She’s still the biggest selling model of all time. Or what about Naomi Campbell BitchBerry slapping the hell out of everybody? As far as I know, she’s still working.
Fashion people are the closest we’ve got to royalty. While it’s sad to admit, even if all the allegations turn out to be true and Galliano goes away and sits in the corner of his beach house in St. Barths for 6 months, something tells me that when he comes back, nobody will ever remember a thing he said and he’ll go back to being The World’s Greatest Designer.