Monday, 28 February 2011

JOHN GALLIANO

John Galliano arrives at a police station in Paris today with his lawyer.

To be blunt, I find it hard to see how John Galliano’s position at Dior can still be tenable after a video emerged today of the designer making grossly offensive anti-Semitic comments on an occasion separate to that of the similar, recent allegations. Alcohol is not an extenuating circumstance for the appalling things which Galliano said. Aside from the sheer insensitivity and harmfulness of using one of the most awful episodes of history, which is still a very open wound for millions of people around the world, to form insults, the whole thing is a PR and marketing catastrophe for Dior, the brand for which Galliano is the figurehead. High fashion labels micro-manage their images to nth degree with everything, from how the product is positioned on the store shelves to which celebrities can be seen wearing the clothes, overseen with microscopic precision. The brand being associated with anti-Semitic slurs could hardly be any more damaging to the refined image which Dior, in common with other high fashion houses, so carefully cultivates and maintains. Brand image, after all, is crucial for persuading increasingly fickle consumers to spend high fashion prices on clothing and accessories. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but walking past the Dior shop near work today I was struck by how it was totally deserted, with the staff inside looking decidedly uncomfortable. Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and the other usual suspects nearby, were buzzing in comparison.

That is not, however, to say that I don’t feel a real sadness for Galliano. His behaviour is not to be excused, but I find it hard to believe that he is truly a malicious anti-Semite. The impression which I get most strongly is that Galliano is a desperate figure, in need of help and support more than anything else. Drinking alone in Parisian bars before getting involved in vile slanging matches seems more like a cry for help than some sort of perverted political statement. As Alexander McQueen so tragically demonstrated, creative geniuses are frequently troubled souls, prone to depression and self-destruction. Furthermore, the sheer pressure of working as a designer at that level in the fashion industry should never be underestimated. Galliano’s eccentric appearance and bizarre comments during interviews serve only to reinforce the impression that despite his stunning collections, legions of fans and glitzy celebrity friends, a troubled man lurks beneath it all. The fashion industry, with its glamour, high aspirations and embrace of fantasy and escapism has a knack of attracting, before all too often destroying, the mentally unstable. The mental health issues which affect a not insubstantial number of gay men, often the product of difficult childhoods and lacking support networks, is another – rarely discussed – topic in itself. The fact that Galliano himself, openly homosexual, should be caught on camera declaring his love for Hitler who was, to put it mildly, no fan of gays either outlines the almost surreal nature of the whole incident.

The disconnect between the sheer beauty of Galliano’s designs, both for his own label and for the house of Dior, and the foulness of the insults which he hurled is almost impossible to grasp. The shock and disbelief of fashion editors, and others who have known and supported Galliano for years, is palpable on Twitter and on blogs. Galliano will be judged harshly in the public eye because of his eccentric look and manner, and he will no doubt be dismissed (rightly, I think) from Dior, but one can only hope that he will have time in private to reflect and, above all, to recuperate.

17 comments:

  1. Its weird, i always assumed you were gay (due to your avid intrest in fashion). But the way you distantly/dissconectedly commented on the mental state of a homosexual man has me thinking otherwise

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  2. I'm sad that you read my comments like that

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  3. whoa!!! there's a video!!! where can i see it?

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  4. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3436757/Film-of-John-Gallianos-racist-rant-in-bar.html

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  5. This is beautifully written and quite frankly I could not agree more
    Though his behavior and comments were inexcusable I can't help but to think that he meant it with any hint of malice. It will be interesting to see how Dior and Galliano himself will recover

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  6. "The fashion industry, with its glamour, high aspirations and embrace of fantasy and escapism has a knack of attracting, before all too often destroying, the mentally unstable. "

    In my opinion, rather than it "destroying the mentally unstable" it -creates- the unstable mentality.

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  7. well, he was just heavily drunk ... and hes a genius- why cant just people forgive and forget??

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  8. just one more thing- it seems like oscar wilde's case again- lets punish one person for sins of the industry and society , cant e be beyond this??

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  9. Anonymous said...

    well, he was just heavily drunk ... and hes a genius- why cant just people forgive and forget??



    Can you forget 6 billions death ?

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  10. I think he is an alcohlic, since I struggled my self with alcohol and depression in the past. The video reminds me of myself being drunk ( I have never been antisemitic though- as a German I think I was taught against any kind discremenation very strongly). His agressiveness is a sign of self-hate. I also thing he needs help and maybe a break but he will come back his genius is to great ( or he will go McQueens way... but I think he is too strong for it)The Fashion Philosopher

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  11. I totally agree. And I totally think Galliano made a huuuuge mistake and he must pay for it.
    But in my opinion, people like him are overrated. With this, I don't mean Galliano's exceptional and beautiful work is overrated, but he himself is. The, say, good part of it is that we see him famous, and cool, and people are interested on him and so on.
    The bad par of it is there are lots and lots of people drinking and saying very regrettable things in bars. But no one records a video of them and uploads it to the internet. In some way, what he said is also "overrated".

    With this, I am not trying to justify Galliano's words but to say neither the words of some of my neighbours saying similar things can be justified. Nevertheless, no one records videos of them and they still have their jobs. Of course I can go to my local pub and record people. But even if I did, would there be someone interested on seeing the videos making my locals lose their jobs, even if my neighbours were to be really nazis?

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  12. To Anonymous #2 above... You mean 6million, right? juuuuuuust checking.

    Anyway, I really like your blog post. The things he said were harsh, but Galliano is still a genius designer with a few to match him. I sincerely hope he gets some help with his apparent issues mentally... Sad to see him go, but his dismissal is deserved.

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  13. this is a fair examination of Galliano, and I completely agree.
    However, What I'd really want to talk about is the sheer heteronormativity of the first comment on this post... Why does a must a man who is interested in fashion have to be gay? The comment is not only irrelevant to the blog posting, but offensive and it perpetuates binaries that are unfair. I personally find the Hapsical blog to be insightful, regardless of the writer's sexual orientation. Being gay doesn't grant you insight into the world of fashion any more than being straight gives you the you the innate ability to fix a car. The writer's sexual orientation shouldn't even be a talking point.
    At any rate, I feel torn between my love of Galliano's work and the man, as he is being presented right now, and this posting really nailed my emotional state in regards to this.
    Thanks

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  14. 6 million? PLEASE!
    Are you just children or do you really think Galliano had anything to do with the ACTUAL holocaust?
    He should just serve his time, make a huge apology, donate money to some charity, and forgive and forget (FORGIVE AND FORGET HIS COMMENTS!!!!!! NOT THE HOLOCAUST ITSELF!)

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  15. The way you described him is pretty much the way he looked like in that video! Poor guy! But he definitely passed the line! And he seemed drunk!

    anyway, very bad behavior!

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  16. I confess that I myself did at some point a very regrettable and bad taste joke about a Jewish former work colleague. I did not get on well with her -for personal reasons which of course had nothing to do with her being Jewish neither me being not, had had some drinks and said a very stupid thing about her -not to her but to a friend of mine, as a private joke. I had forgotten it already but it suddenly came to my mind as soon as I knew about the Galliano episode.
    My point is I can swear I wasn't meaning what I said at all. But I said it anyway. It was not nice at all and now it is clear for me that it is very regrettable to say things like that even when you don't mean them.

    But on the other hand, I wonder what would have happened if I had been rich and famous, drunk, perhaps on drugs and in front of a hidden camera? Probably the same as to Galliano. Luckily, I am a common person and nobody knows I did that comment. I don't know what Galliano actually thinks of Holocaust but in my opinion, there is not only a huge difference between nazis and not nazis but a very narrow one in how circumstances can screw things -or make you lucky.

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