By Sam Aldenton
Fashion has entered a dark moment, however it’s not because of the clothes, rather one of theindustry’s more prominent designers, John Galliano. Galliano was up until this week, the design director at luxury fashion house Christian Dior until he allegedly made anti-Semitic remarks to a Géraldine Bloch, 35, and her partner Philippe Virgiti, 41, whilst dining at a bar in Paris.
Dior began its legal proceedings in dismissing Galliano, whose dramatic and often shocking runway shows have inspired audiences for the last 14 years, last week and had suspended the designer on the 25th of February following his arrest. The same day of Mr. Galliano’s arrest, Paris-citizen based journalism site Citizenside published a video of the designer from the previous December in the same bar, on another anti-semitic outburst, this time directed at a group of Italian women.
After the release of the video, and its subsequent licensing to British tabloid The Sun, Natalie Portman, whom is the brand’s newest ambassador for its Miss Dior Cherie fragrance, released a statement saying:
“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. I hope at the very least, these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful.”
Portman is a Jewish Oscar-winning actress for her recent role in the critically acclaimed movie, The Black Swan, and whose great-grandparents were murdered in the Auschwitz Nazi prison.
Galliano is reported to have left France on Wednesday to enter a rehabilitation facility for alcohol abuse and is expected to attend a facility in Wickenberg, Arizona, where the likes of Elton John and Donatella Versace have also been treated.
However, the overshadowing question that has remained on the lips of fashion editors, as they gathered in Paris this week for the start of the Paris Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2011 shows was whether the Dior show really would go on.
Rumors had been circulating that the typical ostentatious runway show would be instead downgraded to a tight knit presentation, but the show did in fact go on, only without its namesake designer to take his bow at the end.
Whilst the mood outside of the show was reportedly frenzied, inside told another story as the show kicked off after a brief statement from Dior CEO Sidne Toledano, “It has been deeply painful to see the Dior name associated with the disgraceful statements attributed to its designer, however brilliant he may be,” he said. Continuing on to describe the hard work the house ateliers contributed in Mr. Galliano’s absence.
Many attendee’s including The Wall Street Journal‘s Christina Binkley tried to pick what was and what wasn’t essentially Galliano but the main attraction of the show was the strong emphasis placed on the accessories of the collection, which are the money makers in the business of luxury brands.
The show ended with all of the behind the seams team taking the final bow for the collection, which would normally have been reserved for Galliano, and the white Dior lab coat-wearing ateliers filled the entrance to the catwalk which sparked a standing ovation and cheers from the audience.
Whilst the chilling comments made by Mr. Galliano cannot be deleted or forgotten, it is also important to remember that the pressures that high fashion place on its designers.
Marc Jacobs, fashion director of Louis Vuitton was readmitted to rehab in 2007, Yves Saint Laurent spent his whole life battling substance abuse, Calvin Klein infamously admitted to substance abuse after interruption a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden and sadly almost a year to the day, Alexander McQueen tragically committed suicide.
This pressure is often too much for them to handle and Galliano is not the first to have made such a grave fall from grace.