Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Inspiration Falls Flat
…For Now?

John Galliano replaces good grace with disgrace.

John Galliano – “Fashion Deity” for many – has lost his throne. The eccentric and very influential designer, who headed couture powerhouse Christian Dior since 1997, was dismissed from his duties at the elite French fashion “maison” this March. What made the “haute” couture fashion world who once praised him so highly give Galliano the (high padded) cold shoulder?

"In light of the deeply offensive statements and conduct by John Galliano in a video made public [Monday], Christian Dior has commenced termination procedures against him,"
Said the statement made by the Dior fashion house.

A mere few days before this statement was released, and Paris Fashion Week, a video surfaced on the internet via British tabloid The Sun, which shows a clearly inebriated Galliano slurring alleged Anti-Semitic remarks at some fellow patrons in a Paris café. To make matters worse the incident in question is apparently not the first. This scandal has shocked and enraged many, from the bottom to the top of the fashion food chain, and Galliano’s fate as a successful designer looks very grim.
Oscar winning Jewish actress, Natalie Portman, who is currently under contract to endorse the Miss Dior Cherie fragrance, has expressed her “disgust” at Galliano’s comments. Portman said: “I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano’s comments that surfaced today...I hope at the very least, these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful.” Dior's chief executive Sidney Toledano stated that he "firmly condemns” what was said by Galliano and procedures for his dismissal from Dior promptly ensued.

It is quite apparent that many who were angered and disappointed by Galliano’s behaviour wouldn't bat a stiletto eyelash if they were to see him go from high fashion to flipping burgers at this point in time. But some might wonder if he is being persecuted too harshly.

In a likely attempt to appeal to the public’s better (and “forgiving” human) nature, John Galliano released his own personal statement in regards to the event:
“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… 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.”

Jumping to Galliano’s defence is Sex and the City costume designer, Patricia Field. She has dismissed Galliano’s behaviour as “theater” and “a farce”. But not many get the joke. Furthermore, it can be seen as inappropriate and irresponsible for an influential public figure to lead himself into such a controversial scandal. Can a highly respected fashion figure of his caliber really be allowed to have such an epic lapse in character? It’s hard for the public think of someone as flamboyant and talented as Galliano as a human being, let alone capable of a mistake. This could be it for John Galliano. We could be seeing his beautiful creations on the bargain racks with last season’s leftovers from here on out. A tarnished tiara is a hard thing to shake off and it’s doubtful this event will ever be forgotten by his former followers, but a genuine mistake, even of this severity, could potentially be forgiven. The outcome is up to the people. We hold John Galliano’s future in our Lady Dior quilted handbags.

Criminal charges against the fashion designer have been laid. Galliano is set to face trial in Paris based on charges of “public insults based on the origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity", and if found guilty he could allegedly be fined and serve up to six months in prison. The trial is tentatively set to begin in April or June of this year.

The question remains on many minds: Is John Galliano a fluent racist, or did he just make a horrific err? And can the condemning Couturians ever forgive such a faux pas? Only time will tell. The public masses are capable of allowing an idol to slip up and still receive embrace (see Britney Spears), but Fashion and all its “Nistas” can be fickle. A second chance could be withheld from the British designer and he should be prepared to have to work very hard for it if he’s willing to try and continue in his career. The road to forgive and let live is going to be a long one for Galliano, and it could lead to nowhere near where he once was. But maybe one day he’ll climb his way back to the top of that ladder once more that will lead him into our hearts, and our closets.

By: Christien Michael Love

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