One day after a particularly compromising video of John Galliano projecting anti-Semitic slurs at a couple in a Paris café hit the Internet last Monday, the head designer for Christian Dior was fired the following day. According to New York Magazine, while dining at the La Perle café in France, a wine-fueled Galliano was videotaped making anti-Semitic sentiments to other patrons, saying “I love Hitler … People like you would be dead today. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed.”
Dior was quick to act, suspending Galliano from his post as head designer shortly before firing him. However, as CEO and president of the brand, Sidney Toledano stated, “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.”
Unfortunately, the designer’s recent hateful comments coincided with Paris’ Fashion Week. According to the Wall Street Journal, the collection that appeared this past Friday in Paris had not been finished by Galliano at the time of his discharge from the company. Thus, the remainder of the collection was at the disposal of Dior’s design team.
As always, the show must go on–but what is left of one of fashion’s most coveted designers? It’s upsetting to the fashion industry, fellow fashion designers, and celebrities who have collaborated with the designer in the past. Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman, who is currently the face of Miss Dior Cherie perfume, dismissed Galliano and vowed to disassociate herself from him as well.
Dior is a reputable, respectable fashion house, and has the responsibility to maintain a positive image within the fashion industry. Dior is an elite brand, the epitome of luxury, and an upstanding emblem of sophistication and power. Being led by a racist designer negates this reputation, no matter how talented the designer may be.
The hype surrounding the designer and his recent racial outbursts is overwhelming. It leads many people–industry insiders, patrons, designers, fashion consumers, business owners, etc.–to make an important decision on where they stand on the issue. Is it a matter of what is morally correct, or should we be concerned about the future of Christian Dior as an essential leader in the world of fashion?
As a young Jewish woman, it is hard to let such comments go unnoticed. I am also clearly a fashion enthusiast, yet the sounds of hateful commentary are much more powerful than any beautiful gown that graces the runway. Fashion should not be stained by intolerable words of prejudice.
I will admit that Galliano will be missed as a prominent fashion designer, and his fashion designs that have spanned more than a decade will remain prodigious. However, Galliano is no different than anyone else, fashion genius or not. As of now, Galliano’s future is in the hands of French law. According to Women’s Wear Daily, he faces charges of defamation and insult, and could face imprisonment and heavy fines.