Galliano fired after reportedly praising Hitler in rant

March 2nd, 2011 by Staff

PARIS — This time, John Galliano, long a top fashion-world provocateur on and off the runway, went too far.
The storied French label Christian Dior said Tuesday it was firing the zany British bad boy after a video showing him spouting “I love Hitler” in a drunken rant went viral online — sending shock waves through the start of Paris Fashion Week.
The ouster followed a barrage of accusations and revelations about Galliano’s outbursts that spelled major career trouble for the talented and moneymaking couturier.
The allegations of bigotry had put Dior, which battles crosstown rival Chanel for the title of world’s top fashion house, in the hot seat: Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman, the new advertising face of the Miss Dior Cherie perfume line, who is Jewish, expressed fury over the remarks.
Galliano’s sacking marked the latest bout of scandal to shake the rarified fashion world, including last year’s suicide of Alexander McQueen, another celebrated British designer, and supermodel Kate Moss’ brief stint in the industry wilderness after photos of her snorting cocaine went public in 2005.
“Knowing John’s proclivity for provocation on the runway and in life, to hear such accusations wasn’t surprising,” said Dana Thomas, a fashion guru and author of “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster,” an expose of the luxury industry.
“But the videos that went viral yesterday were too damning to deny,” she said. “I’m sure (Dior CEO Sidney) Toledano was deeply hurt because he’s Jewish.”

“It’s an insolence that’s unforgivable,” she added.
‘I love Hitler’
Fashionistas almost uniformly said Dior would pull through the controversy, and some even suggested the episode gave it a chance to clean its slate after Galliano’s 15-year rein as its mastermind of creation.
The 50-year-old designer’s tailspin began after a couple accused him of hurling anti-Semitic insults at them Thursday at La Perle, a trendy eatery in Paris’ Marais district — a hip neighborhood known for its sizable gay and Jewish populations.
As word got out that police were investigating, another woman came forward Saturday accusing Galliano of similar anti-Semitic insults in October at the same brasserie.
An apparent smoking gun emerged Monday when the British daily The Sun posted a video on its website showing Galliano, his speech slurred, appearing to taunt two women diners.
At one point, a woman’s voice asks Galliano, “Are you blond, with blue eyes?”
Galliano replied: “No, but I love Hitler, and people like you would be dead today. Your mothers, your forefathers, would be … gassed and … dead.”

Making anti-Semitic remarks can bring up to six months in prison in France, and Galliano appeared in a Paris police station Monday to face the accusations against him.
In what some hailed as an appropriate and quick response, Christian Dior SA said Tuesday it had launched termination proceedings for Galliano and decried “the particularly odious nature of the behavior and words” in the video.
Galliano’s lawyer did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
‘Extremely sad’
News of Galliano’s firing hit Tuesday’s start of Paris’ nine-day-long ready-to-wear marathon like a tidal wave, with journalists, editors and stylists reading out Dior’s statement on a shuttle bus between shows.
Some murmured that Dior had long been looking to part with Galliano, and this was a way out. Others feared that it might bring his brilliant career to a tragic finish — and possibly overshadow his legacy.

Dior said it still planned to go ahead with its Galliano-designed fall-winter 2011-12 collection on Friday as part of Paris fashion week.
Trying to limit the fallout, press officers at the designer’s signature label, John Galliano, spent much of the day checking with journalists, critics, stylists and editors to make sure they would be attending its women’s wear show, scheduled for Sunday.
Questions were bound to arise about whether Galliano’s fame and fawning fans had gone to his head, or whether he had succumbed to the pressures of the high-octane, big-payoff industry.
“The situation is extremely sad. Creative people like John — great artists, great writers — often wrestle with the devil in the form of the bottle or drugs,” Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief of American Marie Claire, said. After seeing the video, she said, “You were left thinking, ‘What on earth was he thinking?’”
“The pressure is probably less when you start somewhere than when you’ve been there for some time and have to continue to produce at such a high level,” she said. “We’re very curious to see who replaces John.”

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