When John Galliano showed his first collection, editors immediately labeled him “the wild child of British fashion”, not realizing that for his life and work, the word “wild” is an understatement.
The Brit entered high fashion with a flying start that would later be cited as the cause of his downfall.
In 1996, Galliano was appointed Chief Creative Director of the French design house Dior, one of the most famous and best-selling brands in the world, after only 6 years as a designer.
Then the Brit is 36 years old with an established taste for catwalk theatrics and ready to turn Dior’s classic style upside down.
However, this career did not last as long as everyone imagined in the 90s. In 2011, after a series of scandals surrounding the designer, which also harmed the French brand, Galliano reached the peak of his cynicism with anti-Semitic insults directed at a woman.
The incident took place in a Paris bar and was heavily covered by the media because a person who witnessed the incident filmed it with his phone and posted it on YouTube. To say the footage is disturbing is an understatement. In the apparently inappropriate clip, Galliano declares himself a supporter of Hitler and attacks a woman with anti-Semitic insults.
The backlash after the incident in France was deafening, and Dior, who by this point had seen enough of the designer’s unpredictable and uncontrollable behavior, decided to fire him.
It is even more embarrassing that the actress Natalie Portman, then the leading face and ambassador of the fashion house, is of Jewish origin.
“As someone who is a proud Jew, I don’t want my name to be associated with that of Mr. Galliano in the future. I hope the behavior we all saw is an incentive to fight the ugly prejudices about ethnicities that still exist,” he wrote the actress after watching the video.
After facing the consequences and public backlash, the Brit sprinkled ashes on his head, apologizing and checking into an addiction treatment clinic.
But now, 11 years after that incident, John Galliano sees the events from a different angle and believes that his dismissal from the leadership post at the French fashion brand was unjustified.
For this reason, he filed a claim for damages of 15 million dollars, which he wants from his former employers.
Before the case moves to the merits, let’s rewind the tape a little. The relationship between Dior and the fashion designer has been strained, so to speak, from the very beginning of their joint work. The incident with the posted video is just the last straw.
The dialogue escalated even in the year when Galliano took the helm of the brand and threw all their traditions in the trash. The designer makes it clear that his taste in aesthetics belongs to the era of Marie Antoinette and the ornaments of the Palace of Versailles.
This inspired him to create over-the-top, artistic yet unwearable dresses, while at the same time Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel and Gianni Versace of Versace set new trends in comfortable clothing that appealed to celebrities and everyday women alike.
Dior stay on the fringes with their Versailles outfits and they don’t like it. In 2000, however, Galliano proved to them that he could create something worse.
The designer is launching a clothing line that he says is inspired by the homeless people he sees walking in front of him every morning in Paris while he runs. And when Galliano says he’s inspired by homeless people, he’s not kidding.
His spring/summer collection featured dresses made from newspaper clippings, ripped trousers and plastic bag bags. The models’ makeup and hair are also included in the look. They are purposefully styled to look like they haven’t bathed in at least a year.
Editors coined the sarcastic “tramp chic” as the title of the fashion line, and major publications slammed Galliano and Dior for turning one of the French capital’s biggest social problems into a fashion show.
“I don’t know which of the two is worse. The designer who sees the homeless as aesthetic objects, or the New York mayor who doesn’t see them at all,” wrote the New York Times.
“Of course, it’s hard to imagine that a haute couture customer would spend $25,000 on a dress that would make him look like a bum,” commented Le Monde on the other hand.
Despite these reviews, Dior still tends to look for a common language with the model until March 2011 and the video of him shouting: “I love Hitler”.
When the contract between Galliano and Dior is terminated (from which the fashion brand only profits), the designer decides that the time has come to recognize the problems and look for ways to solve them.
Months after his public dismissal, he checked into an addiction treatment clinic in the US, and in 2015, in an interview with the Guardian, he confirmed that he had been addicted to alcohol and drugs throughout his work.
“I’m an alcoholic. I’m a drug addict. It’s not an excuse, but I don’t think I’m to blame for my illness. Anyway, I’m going to take responsibility and try to be better. Every day I face a battle to his life,” says Galliano.
At the time, he was in a way grateful to Dior for removing him from his post, because it made him realize how serious his drug problem was.
“I used to blame others for everything bad that happens to me, but now I believe that I am ready to take the consequences. I was a very shy person, and parties gave me courage. I did not see how I would stop. I would be dead today if Dior I hadn’t been fired. I would have either been in a mental institution or two meters underground,” Galliano said.
A few years later, however, he sang another song.
Now, in addition to himself, he is also seeking responsibility from the French company that left him without a job against the background of a heavily plowed image, which to this day cannot restore to its earliest glory.