STYLE

John Galliano Has His Day In Court, Blames Trio Of Addictions For His Actions

06/22/2011 07:10 am 07:10:52 | Updated Aug 22, 2011

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.

06/22/2011 4:38 PM EDT

But before we go... awesome drawings!

John Galliano as rendered by a court artist. Behold:

06/22/2011 4:22 PM EDT

And that's a wrap!

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.

06/22/2011 4:19 PM EDT

The defense, again: Galliano loves other cultures

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.

06/22/2011 4:09 PM EDT

Prosecution update

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.

06/22/2011 3:54 PM EDT

Defense focuses on Galliano's unstable mental state

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.

06/22/2011 3:41 PM EDT

Finally, prosecution gives recommendation

@SHona_F24 for France 24 reports:

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.

06/22/2011 3:37 PM EDT

Prosecutor doesn't go easy

"I think she just said, It is hard to admit you were once ugly and poor ..."

- @GQFashion

06/22/2011 3:34 PM EDT

Trial outlasting livebloggers' phone batteries

So says @GQFashion:

My battery is running low, folks. Fingers crossed.

I wish my battery lasted as long as these prosecutors closing statements.

06/22/2011 3:26 PM EDT

Trial turns into rhetorical free-for-all

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.

06/22/2011 3:09 PM EDT

In the meantime, what's Galliano wearing?

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

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