Dior’s quest to repair their image after creative directors anti-sematic remarks.
While most of us were relaxing at home, or perhaps lying on a beach (if you were one of the lucky ones) enjoying our much anticipated intercession week, such was not the case for chief designer of fashion house Christian Dior, John Galliano. Galliano was fired on March 1st 2011 after a video surfaced of him yelling a series of anti-sematic comments in a bar in Paris. Soon after the video appeared, it spread like wildfire throughout the fashion industry and many people were jumping at the opportunity to comment on what they had seen. Although most were up in arms about the racist comments he had made, there were several individuals who stood by the famous designer in his time of need. One of the main questions on everyone’s minds was whether or not Dior will survive without its creative director, and more importantly who will be brave enough to fill his shoes?
Galliano was one of the most influential designers within the fashion industry and was known for being the so-called “bad boy”. He was constantly pushing the envelope when it came to his daring looks on the catwalk, and was admired and respected immensely by others. Many industry professionals have since replaced this respect with repulsion and hatred, since his thoughtless tirade. Oscar winner Natalie Portman released a statement claiming that she was “deeply shocked and disgusted” at the comments made by Galliano. Portman, who is “proud to be Jewish”, was so appalled by his actions, that she abruptly changed her decision to wear Galliano at the Academy Awards ceremony that Sunday evening. Renowned fashion designer, Karl Lagerfeld was also quick to comment on the situation, stating that he is “furious” with Galliano, as reported by WWD’s Miles Socha. Lagerfeld feels as though he has tarnished the image of everyone in the fashion business, let alone the chairman and CEO of the company, Bernard Arnault, who had been a great friend to both Lagerfeld and Galliano.
While Portman and Lagerfeld were not alone in their feelings towards Galliano’s remarks, there are many individuals who are coming to his defense. Roberto Cavalli was interviewed by The Telegraph backstage at Milan Fashion Week and immediately defended Galliano, claiming “I don’t believe it because I’ve know John for many years. He’s such a wonderful person”, furthermore stating that Galliano is “so international” and therefore it would not make sense for him to make such racist comments. Another celebrity coming to his defense is model and friend Chanel Iman. On March 1st Iman told Hollywoodlife.com that Galliano “is one of the most creative, genius designers that I’ve worked with and he’s so open to all types of people. He’s loving and he’s caring and I wish him all the best”. Like Cavalli and Iman, many of his friends have been quick to dismiss these allegations of racism, claiming that Galliano is a brilliant man with a vast array of talent. Among several of his daring fashion shows, Galliano has shown inspiration through the influence of differing cultures within his designs. He has never shown any hateful attitudes towards race in the past, which seems to beg the question to many as to whether it was all a misunderstanding.
Sara Rotman, creative director and owner of MODCo Creative has compared Galliano’s absence within the fashion industry to Tom Ford leaving Gucci, as well as Alexander McQueen’s tragic suicide. She states that Galliano is “one of the few geniuses really left in our field”, as reported by WWD’s Miles Socha. Rotman believes that after the initial shock of Dior’s decision to move on without Galliano, they, like many other fashion houses, will move on and find their rhythm again. The final outcome now remains within fashion industry, and whether or not they will be willing to support a brand with a tarnished image.
Was Dior’s quick response to the controversy surrounding Galliano a smart move, or would have they been better off keeping him a part of the company? Since 1996, Galliano has been proven to be a huge success as Dior’s creative director and has showed his unique sense of style throughout his time there. He was the brains behind the whole operation and had improved their image by “ increasing sales and making it a jewel of the LVMH luxury empire run by the French billionaire Bernard Arnault”, as reported by The New York Times’ Doreen Carvajal (February 28, 2011). Dior’s rash decision to fire Galliano, may backfire when all the media dies down, leaving not only a tarnished reputation for Dior, but also leaving them without the star of their company. Galliano has been an inspiration from the start, and finding a quick replacement may just be the demise of the company.