In a shocking upheaval in the state of fashionable affairs, Christian Dior fired its head designer of 14 years last week following a highly publicized antisemitic rant by the designer. If you Google John Galliano or Christian Dior you will find hundreds of blogs and news pieces discussing everything from JG’s intoxication during the video, to the state of the runway shows that were less than a week away, to who will replace him at the helm of Dior. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if there was a Lifetime movie or mini series in the works and I am confident that more than one biography depicting the rise and oh so dramatic fall of John Galliano will hit the shelves this year.
And while it is tragic to me that an individual in such an influential position has chosen to use his power to cause such devastation, especially in a day and age when his words were disseminated around the world in a matter of hours, I would like to focus on the fallout rather than the event itself. While JG’s publicist picked him up, dusted him off and spirited him away to rehab, as we all know is the protocol for celebrities these days, there were various results in the City of Lights.
Christian Dior immediately and unceremoniously fired JG. No second chances. No demotion. The CEO of Christian Dior has issued several public statements, including the following one moments before the Christian Dior Fall 2011 runway show on 7 March: “Such statements are intolerable because of our collective duty to never forget the Holocaust and its victims, and because of the respect for human dignity that is owed to each person and to all peoples. These statements have deeply shocked and saddened all at Dior who give body and soul to their work, and it is particularly painful that they came from someone so admired for his remarkable creative talent.”
The new face of Christian Dior’s Miss Dior fragrance, recent Oscar winner Natalie Portman, issued the following statement mere hours after the video was made public: “I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano’s comments that surfaced today. In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.”
In the end, both the Christian Dior and John Galliano Fall 2011 runway shows continued as scheduled, a decision which was reached at the last-minute if the concern and panicked debate swirling around the internet in preceding days is any indication. An intimate salon showing of the John Galliano collection held an interesting surprise, though whether it was planned or inadvertent I doubt we’ll ever know, one of the models displaying the 20 looks proudly sported a Star of David tattoo on her slim arm.
There are opinions galore available on this subject and while I am interested in hearing yours, I don’t want to turn this site into a soapbox, so I will not be lecturing you on my beliefs.
What I wish to say on this topic is that despite the appalling statements that were made and the tumultuous circumstances resulting from them, I found at least some solace in the reactions of the public figures involved. No, I’m not so naive as to believe that PR played no role in the aftermath, but despite that factor I thought that the public generally reacted with the appropriate dismay. The front row at the Christian Dior and John Galliano shows were notably sparse, the Paris police are pressing criminal charges for racist comments, Christian Dior & Natalie Portman immediately condemned the designer’s views and extricated themselves from business dealings with him and every media outlet I have had access to has covered the story with, at the very least, a neutral stance. In fact, the only person that I heard loudly defend JG was stylist Patricia Fields, who brushed his words off as merely being theatrical (Daily Mail link).
That is not to say that there weren’t those who mourned this loss to the fashion world, like the young man in the first picture who carried a sign lamenting JG’s departure from the industry. But from what I read and heard, those who threw their support behind JG were very clear that they supported his creative genius, not his ideals or his actions.
In your opinion, did Christian Dior handle this situation well? What else could the house have done?
If you’re interested in a review and photographs of the two shows, please see the links below: