And in other news about People Who Are Not Charlie Sheen Saying Crazy Things That Piss Off Their Employers, Dior has fired John Galliano as its head designer after a video surfaced Monday of Galliano telling a group of French and Italian women--whom he presumed were Jewish--that he loved Hitler and that their ancestors would have been "fucking gassed."
Galliano's firing came on the heels of his suspension from the fashion house last week over a similar but separate incident in the same Paris bar where the video was taken, in which he allegedly insulted French couple Geraldine Bloch and Philippe Virgiti, telling Bloch she had a "dirty Jewish face" and Virgiti, who's of Asian descent, that he was a "fucking Asian bastard" before threatening to kill him. Bloch and Virgiti eventually called police to the bar, where Galliano, who was inebriated, was arrested.
(Neither Bloch nor the women Galliano addresses in the video are, in fact, Jewish.)
What's interesting about all this is how the fashion world circled the wagons around Galliano once these incidents came to light. (Hey, we don't call it "fashism" here for nothing.) I first read about Galliano's suspension on Scott Schuman's style blog The Sartorialist--known generally for its pictures and not its commentary--about which Schuman wrote:
Dior has suspended John Galliano while they investigate the alleged anti-Semitic remarks that landed the designer in jail last night.
So, I understand and agree with the Dior zero-tolerence policy regarding race and religion, but isn't suspending someone based solely on allegation a little hasty? I thought that, even in Paris, you're considered innocent till proven guilty...
Basically, Dior just threw their star designer under the bus based on the word of strangers with no "reported" third party eyewitness account of the actual events. That ,to me, is the real issue at this stage of the game.
Around the same time, NY Mag's The Cut interviewed "a source" who'd "worked closely with Galliano on several projects" who said:
"I'm an observant Jew, and I know from my own experiences with him that there's no way he hates Jewish people. He's incredibly gentle."
Donatella Versace said in Milan there was no justification for the insults but she doubted Galliano had meant to be racist.
Giorgio Armani told fashion reporters the episode must have been due to "a moment of weakness." "You can't expect exemplary behavior from an eccentric man like him," he added.
[A] person close to Galliano, a fashion expert who asked not to be named, said he has struggled with having to constantly outperform and with living a life disconnected from reality.
"The truth is that the lid has been removed. Dior had kept him inside this closed pressure cooker and he was trying to survive. Dior wanted people to believe that everything was fine but he was not alright," she said...
"It's sad. That's the only thing I can say. He's an artist and it's sad for me," said Portuguese designer Fatima Lopes.
"People in fashion all they do is go and see John Galliano theater every season," she said. "That's what he gives them. To me, this was the same except it wasn't in a theater or in a movie. John lives in theater. It's theater. It's farce. But people in fashion don't recognize the farce in it. All of a sudden they don't know him. But it's okay when it's Mel Brooks' The Producers singing 'Springtime for Hitler.'"
Yes, it's not anti-Semitism and racism, it's theater! It's eccentricity! It's the pressure to perform! And it's only sad to call someone a dirty Jew when the name-caller is...AN ARTIST!
Move over, Roman Polanski, there's a new martyr in town.
Before the "I love Hitler" video surfaced, Galliano had filed a defamation suit against his accusers Bloch and Virgiti over the weekend. It's unclear now what will happen with Galliano's suit, but here are a few things to know about the French legal system, according to HuffPo:
In France, the penalty for defamation can result in up to one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros.
The penalty for anti-Semitism, however, only carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison.
Because racism may be a lot of things--a moment of weakness, stress, drinking too much, mistakenly believing you're a pirate--but it's not defamation, okay?
(I guess someone should mention that to the Anti-Defamation League.)
[HuffPo: John Galliano Arrested For Alleged Assault & Making Anti-Semitic Remarks]
[The Cut: What Really Happened With John Galliano Last Night?]
[The Sun: Film of Galliano's racist rant in bar]
[Reuters: Dior fires "odious" Galliano over racist slurs]
[EW.com: Designer Patricia Field defends John Galliano's alleged anti-Semitic remarks as 'farce']