On Feb. 25, news broke that famed designer of the legendary clothing house Dior, John Galliano, had been arrested for yelling drunken, anti-Semitic rants at a mixed race couple in Paris.
Dior fans and fashion lovers worldwide obsessively followed media reports especially when Dior, where Galliano had worked for nearly two decades, announced first his suspension, then ultimately, his firing. His own label was pulled from all major retail stores, notably Nordstrom’s, and Galliano quickly left for a private rehab center to get help for his various problems.
Isaac Mizrahi, a Jewish designer, expressed his hope that Galliano “[will not] work again.”
Nick Long, junior design major with a visual communications emphasis, sees what has happened as disastrous, especially in terms of the effect it will have on Galliano’s creations.
“It takes a lot of effort to be an artist. Artists put a lot of time into their art. You still need to know the artist but you should also appreciate what they’ve created and how hard it takes to create something so beautiful,” Long said.
Long said that the long-term perception of Galliano has changed, but doesn’t necessarily agree that it should.
“I think it’s wrong to fire someone based on what they said when drunk. You should get fired on merit within the workplace. It’s understandable image-wise, but you should also understand that he’s human and good at what he does,” he said.
Long added that he felt that Dior was too rash in their decision to fire Galliano.
“You should always get a better understanding of the situation,” he said.
Kenny Lim, sophomore textiles major, feels differently.
“I think you should be more hard [on him] because he was drunk. He’s a celebrity and he has an image to keep,” Lim said. “He has sacrificed his private life for fame. It was the right thing to do because this is a business. Dior has to salvage their relationship with Natalie Portman, who just became their spokesperson. If I was her, I wouldn’t want to work with a company who employs somebody like that.”
Lim does agree that being an artist is a bit hard sometimes and hopes that the scandal won’t change the wonder that clothes designed by Galliano give to its wearer.
“An artist is always attached to his work. It’s hard to be satisfied, no matter what. Their art is an expression of who they are,” he said. “One example is Alexander McQueen. His clothes reflected his emotions at different stages of his life. Whenever he felt, he would design clothes.”
Ivana Bui, a senior psychology major, echoed the negative feeling now associated with the clothes Galliano makes.
“It’s hard to get past that it. There is a negative reaction when I realize these clothes are made by him and I feel less likely to buy anything he creates,” Bui says.
Before the scandal, Galliano was considered a prodigy of the fashion world. Initially a shy boy, his first brush with fashion was through his Spanish mother who insisted on dressing Galliano in his best for regular outings. He graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design with a first-degree honors in fashion design.
He sold out his first collection and his career flourished greatly, eventually resulting in him being admitted into the French Legion of Honour. Despite all these accomplishments, which also includes dressing Princess Diana before her tragic death, many questions still linger, specifically on how such a talented person who makes clothes more beautiful than imagination could harbor such racist views.
Geraldine Bloch and Philippe Virgitti, the couple at whom Galliano had yelled anti-Semitic insults, has come to his defense. They have asked the press to be more lenient on Galliano, and say all they want Galliano to do after the incident is to “drink less” and seek help for his problems so that he could continue to make his stunning creations.
Anna Wintour, longtime editor of American Vogue, said in an interview in the magazine WSJ of Galliano’s incident and dismissal, “This is all so tragic.”
MICHELLE RUAN can be reached at email@example.com.