The game changed two years ago when John Galliano spat hateful slurs at patrons in a French café. Not only did one of the most revered and successful designers in fashion's history secure his fall from grace, but an ugly underbelly of fashion was exposed. Condemning these remarks not only was a social responsibility on Dior's behalf, but a business one, as well.
Say what you will about the two years that have followed, but one thing is for certain: John Galliano has hidden himself from public view. He neglected to take an "apology tour" or pen a tell-all; he really receded from fashion's eye, emerging only to work on his good friend Kate Moss' wedding dress, a gesture that he now cites as being one that saved him. “Creating Kate’s wedding dress saved me personally because it was my creative rehab. She dared me to be me again," he responds.
Galliano's words will undoubtedly echo throughout his legacy, one that is punctuated with flashes of mania and destruction, but also with the unmistakable mark of genius. In a move of self-reflection, it is this mania and destruction that Galliano talks about in his first interview since he was fired from Dior, telling Vanity Fair, “It’s the worst thing I have said in my life, but I didn’t mean it. . . . I have been trying to find out why that anger was directed at this race. I now realize I was so f**king angry and so discontent with myself that I just said the most spiteful thing I could.”
While the just-released Vanity Fair piece is only a snippet of a larger article, the depth of how far Galliano feels he fell is unmistakably clear, and he remarks that, at the rate he was going, he would have ended up in an insane asylum (or dead), and that he had lost all connection with reality. “What had started as self-expression turned into a mask. I lived in a bubble. I would be backstage and there would be a queue of five people to help me. One person would have a cigarette for me. The next person would have the lighter. I did not know how to use the A.T.M.” Somewhat admirably, Galliano says he is still figuring the amount of pain he has caused people, even now.
The world of fashion is now faced with a decision, as Galliano takes his first tentative steps back into the current conversation — is it possible to forgive such ugliness, especially when that ugliness is now so clearly attached to his name? Does being in pain and consumed by addiction ever excuse real, vitriolic racism? Can, or should, the accomplishments of a thirty-year career be diminished by a creator's personal life? These are hard decisions, and it seems, for now, Galliano is asking the hard questions. Let's see who is listening. (Vanity Fair)
Photo: Image Via Vanity Fair.