John Galliano Has His Day In Court, Blames Trio Of Addictions For His Actions
Scroll down for a play-by-play of the seven-hour-long trial.
Text by PIERRE-ANTOINE SOUCHARD and JENNY BARCHFIELD, Associated Press
PARIS (AP) -- Former Dior designer John Galliano took the stand Wednesday and testified that he remembers nothing about allegedly using anti-Semitic slurs at a Paris cafe because of his "triple addiction" to alcohol, barbiturates and sleeping pills.
Prosecutor Anne de Fontette didn't request jail time, but asked for a fine of no less than euro10,000 ($14,400) for Galliano. The verdict in the one-day trial is expected at a later date.
The 50-year-old designer apologized for spouting an anti-Semitic diatribe in a separate incident captured in video, posted on the Internet and shown to the court, saying these are not his views but reflect instead "the shell of John Galliano ... someone who needs help."
Charges that the outspoken British designer insulted several patrons of a Paris cafe with anti-Semitic remarks shocked the fashion world and cost Galliano his job at the renowned French high-fashion house.
Galliano is charged with "public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity" and could ultimately face up to six months in prison and up to euro22,500 ($32,175) in fines.
The three judges hearing the case need not follow the prosecutor's request. However, that is often the case.
French law prohibits public insults toward others because of their origins, race or religion.
Galliano's appearance at the one-day trial put him in the public eye for the first time in months. In a conservative look for him, Galliano was dressed in black with a polka dot neckerchief, sporting a pencil mustache and long hair.
Journalists, including fashion writers, packed the wooden benches in the paneled, gilded courtroom, which features a high ceiling painted with a woman holding the scales of justice. Television cameras were not allowed but zoomed in on Galliano as he went inside.
The famed designer was escorted to a front-row seat at the Justice Palace courtroom, sitting next to an interpreter as he faced the three judges who will decide his fate.
Presiding Judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud asked about the evening of Feb. 24, when Galliano allegedly derided a couple with anti-Semitic insults.
Galliano repeatedly said he remembered nothing.
"I have a triple addiction. I'm a recovering alcoholic and a recovering addict," he testified in English when asked why his memory was blank. He said he started drinking in 2007 and became addicted to alcohol, barbiturates and sleeping pills.
After his detention by police in February, Galliano said he underwent rehabilitation treatment in Arizona for two months and also in Switzerland.
"After every creative high, I would crash and the alcohol helped me," he said, adding that his creativity "helped make Dior a billion-dollar business."
Asked why he didn't tell police investigators about his addictions, Galliano responded: "I was in denial. I was still taking those pills and alcohol, and I was in complete denial."
A couple contends that Galliano made anti-Semitic comments to them in the cafe in February. Galliano was taken in by police for questioning, and a sobriety test showed he was drunk. Another woman then came forward with similar claims about another incident in the same cafe in October. Both accusations were being addressed at Wednesday's trial.
Days after the February incident, a video was broadcast on the website of the British tabloid The Sun showing an inebriated Galliano insulting a fellow cafe client, slurring: "I love Hitler."
The court asked the designer about the anti-Semitic views he spouts in the 45-second-long video.
"These are not views that I hold or believe in," he said. "In the video, I see someone who needs help, who's vulnerable. It's the shell of John Galliano. I see someone who's been pushed to the edge."
"All my life I've fought against prejudice and intolerance and discrimination because I have been subjected to it myself.
"I apologize for the sadness that this affair has caused and I apologize to the court as well," Galliano said.
One member of the couple allegedly insulted, Geraldine Bloch, told the court that Galliano pronounced the word "Jewish" "at least 30 times" in the approximately 45-minute-long altercation.
Asked why, in their statements, no one else at the cafe appeared to have heard Galliano say the word Jewish, Bloch replied, "I am very surprised."
"He didn't say it any softer or louder than the other commentaries," she said.
When asked if the designer appeared to be drunk, Bloch responded, "I don't know if he was drunk but he was behaving completely strangely."
Judges then asked why she remained seated next to him. Bloch said he had upset her so much with his "gratuitous insults," that staying there became a "question of principle" for her.
Another patron of the cafe, 30-year-old English teacher, Marion Bully, was called as a defense witness. Bully said she was surprised that instead of changing tables, the couple ordered another drink.
"It was very difficult to tell who had insulted whom," she told the court.
Galliano repeated a litany of insults, including "Shut up," "You're ugly" and others with four-letter words, Bully told the court.
"(But) I absolutely didn't hear anything anti-Semitic," she testified, adding she thought the altercation was "totally overblown."
Galliano described his increasing work loads at Dior and his signature label, John Galliano, due to the financial crisis. "They kept me very busy," he said, adding that he had not had time to mourn after the 2007 death of his right hand man, Stephen Robinson, and the 2005 death of his father.
His lawyer, Aurelien Hamelle, told The Associated Press earlier that the designer's comments were "misplaced and hurtful" but attributed them to Galliano's addition to alcohol and prescription drugs.
Galliano issued a statement at the time saying: "Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologize for my behavior in causing any offense." He also said he was "seeking help" for personal failures.
If the court determines that the insults against the victims were heard by other people, it would be a crime and a conviction could lead to a prison term. If such insults were not witnessed, they would only amount to a petty offense and be punishable by a fine.
The February cafe incident and the video reverberated throughout the fashion world because they became known on the eve of Paris Fashion Week. Dior fired Galliano after 14 years with the company and denounced his comments.
After joining the company in 1996, Galliano made an indelible mark on the storied house, with theatrical, often outrageous, runway shows that were among the most-anticipated displays on the Paris fashion calendar.
The trial is being held on the opening day of another round of Paris fashion shows, the menswear spring-summer 2012 collection.
John Galliano as rendered by a court artist. Behold:
The end, brought to you by @cpassariello of the Wall Street Journal:
#Galliano verdict set for Sept. 8. Thus ends a nearly 7-hour trial.
According to @GQFashion, the trial is apaprently in no rush moved onto what we're sure will be a most fruitful part of the defense:
Atty now reading testimonies of friends talking about how interested jg is in diff cultures.
According to AFP, the government is seeking a fine of 10,000 euros minimum for racial injury and anti-Semitism and the prosecutor asked that Galliano be found guilty on all charges.
The defense has begun and includes the following points, reported by @GQFashion:
Defense reading doctor's evaluation of jg and his addictions.
Calls him compulsive and non-controlled.
Now he's saying the drinks may have made him hallucinate.
He complains the police didn't take his medical report into account.
Prosecutor recommends a guilty sentence and fine upto 5,000 euros for both Feb 24 and Oct 8 incidents
The defense will now make their closing arguments.
"I think she just said, It is hard to admit you were once ugly and poor ..."
My battery is running low, folks. Fingers crossed.
I wish my battery lasted as long as these prosecutors closing statements.
After six hours and what seems like a dozen lawyers, the Galliano trial appears to have devolved into an open forum for any lawyer to air his or her grievances about the designer and/or racism and/or anti-Semitism.
The lawyers given time to speak have not been limited to the plaintiffs' lawyers, thus dragging the closing arguments on forever and letting various individuals share their opinions (among them, that "racism vs Asians just as foul as anti semitism," quoted @GQFashion).
Apparently large swaths of the audience have simply left, as have many of the live-bloggers...
... except us, of course. Only the strong survive.
As the closing statements push the trial past its fifth hour, we bring you musings on Galliano's court wardrobe. From @BinkleyOnStyle, Christina Binkley of the Wall Street Journal:
So #Galliano wore drop-crotch genie pants to court trial today. #StillBendingTheRules
A lawyer for French anti-racist group MRAP speaking now. He calls Galliano "a delinquent," writes AFP, "He should be judged as a delinquent".
The lawyer also demanded Galliano be held accountable. "Mr. Galliano is not an empty shell. He is responsible for his actions."
Lawyers for the rights groups, who are the civil plaintiffs say that Galliano was approaching his trial as part of his therapy and another step towards his recovery. In that case, the only way to make sure that he never again uttered insults such as "I Love Hitler" is to punish him. They also said he had a selective memory because he was troubled by insults he made.
While multiple lawyers argue on behalf of the plaintiffs for what has been almost an hour, @cpassariello from the Wall Street Journal brings us this fun fact:
Despite his 15 years at a top French fashion house, #Galliano has been relying on an interpreter in court.
Le Parisien reports that in response to the defense that Galliano merely suffered a "burn out" from overworking, lawyer Nathalie Michaud says, "You cannot use language like that! It's like a man who beats his wife: at work, he's impeccable, but then at home he beats his wife."
According to Le Parisien, one of the plaintiff's lawyers said Galliano's addictions are not excuses, but that his client isn't asking for money. Bloch is asking for one euro -- "The pain was already inflicted by the house of Dior and Mr. Galliano shouldn't have it to himself."
Another lawyer, Jean-Bernard Bosquet-Denis, called it particularly despicable for Galliano to use his status to try to destroy another person. Galliano listened to their words carefully, staying calm.
The lawyer for Ms. Bloch has demanded, among other things, "a publication of the verdict in Vogue and ELLE," writes @miamiolivia.
@csdickey of Newsweek/DailyBeast tweeted this latest update:
Lawyers pleading at #Galliano trial. Accuser's sez all defense witnesses suspect. One fashion student got JG's lawyer's number fm UK journo.
AFP reports on the closing arguments, with one lawyer saying, "I've changed my mind about Galliano. I see a lost soul."
Prosecutor scolds him for not coming clean and admitting, rather than just saying it was his "shadow"
But says jg is courageous to come here bc he did not have to be present.
All witnesses having been called, the judge announces a 15 minute recess.
In the meantime, we leave you with this, by @ReverendPerego:
John Galliano always reminded me of the candlestick from Beauty and the Beast. Hope for choreographed "Be Our Guest" @ the #gallianotrial.
Galliano tries to prove he is open to cultural diversity, saying, "I'm passionate & I travel the world not just as tourist but to understand cultures... I've lived with Masai tribe," @GQFashion reports.
He added, "I travel the world and bring it back in form of a research book that would become starting pt for the collection."
@GQFashion writes that Galliano is being asked by the judge for his final thoughts:
Says if we look at his work can see he embraces every creed and celebrates cultural diversity.
@SaskyaCNN has the quote: "You can say that I embrace every race, creed, sexuality . I strive for diversity in my creations."
Galliano called back to the stand. When asked to state his occupation, says "he has no current occupation. And he is in "day care" for his addictions," writes @GQFashion.
Final witness currently on the stand. Writes @GQFashion, "Witness said he doesn't know jg but when saw how messed up he was helped to get him out of the bar and home."
Le Parisien reports that there was some confusion as prosecutor Anne de Fontette interviewed a male witness about what happened at "La Perla" (brand of lingerie) instead of "La Perle" (name of café).
"Sorry, that's haute couture," she said, to laughter in the room.
Another witness #galliano trial : G allegedly said her friend was ugly and he didn't like her, he said she was a dirty jew
TMcNicoll at #Galliano: New witness. Shopkeeper sez JG called her Hitler, slut, said 'I'll call Carla and Sarkozy, you will disappear!'.
TMcNicoll at #Galliano trial sez courtroom cracked up when JG threatened a shopkeeper with the wrath of Carla Bruni and her hubby.
Witness dismissed, and new female witness being called up.
A male witness at the bar that night claims Galliano insulted his girlfriend, reports @GQFashion.
According to @SaskyaCNN, witness says "it was obvious" Galliano was drunk.