John Galliano, Anna Wintour, Oscar De La Renta in 1990 via Getty Images
It's almost fashion week, which means Oscar de la Renta is back in the pages of WWD courting controversy. Last season, he entered into a very public and very childish feud with fashion critic Cathy Horyn, taking out an ad in the print version of the industry trade publication to call her a "stale three-day-old hamburger."
Though the insult totally cemented his reputation as a creative genius, it did not do a lot for public perception of his maturity level. But based on his comments in today's issue of WWD, it's become apparent that the New York-based designer does not actually care what people think of him.
In any other case, I'd be all like, #respect — but this case involves helping fashion bogeyman John Galliano revive his career. Sorry, #norespect.
I know there's an argument to be made for giving Galliano a second chance after his 2011 disgrace, but I personally do believe his behavior was unforgivable. If you need a refresher course: two years ago, the then-Dior designer was filmed making truly vile anti-Semitic and racist comments at a Parisian cafe. He was drunk, yes — but then again he also said, "I love Hitler." I don't know how acquainted you are with intoxication, but love of Hitler is not actually a common side effect. (As a consequence of his actions, Galliano was fired from Dior and his namesake label — the John Galliano brand was owned by Dior holding company LVMH — and fined €6,000. He went to rehab and his French Legion of Honor Medal was revoked.)
Here's my reasoning: Let's set aside Galliano's so-called genius, and imagine a parallel, but more mundane scenario. Haha, let's make it about boys! If a friend came to me and said, "Maximillian [her boyfriend] got really drunk last night and told me he thought me and my entire family should have been exterminated in concentration camps and then he passed out. But this morning we talked about it and now we're fine. I'm gonna marry him and have his babies," my response would probably be like, "Wow, Maximillian has always seemed like kind of a jerk, but I didn't know he was evil. I'm sorry, but I don't think he is The One. In fact, I think you should have nothing to do with him ever again." "But I love him," says my friend, "And he didn't mean it! He was just so drunk. He's an alcoholic and he's going to enter a treatment program." Wow, sorry. This was supposed to be a really light and fluffy example, but it's getting really heavy. My imagined self was about to start looking up Al-Anon programs.
The point I'm trying to make: I believe there's a limit to how much we can forgive what people say and do when they're intoxicated. I'm not saying we should imprison Galliano for life, but I don't think it's right to welcome him back with open arms and to help him reestablish his glamourous, high-profile career. It sets a bad precedent, sends the wrong message. And so on.
De la Renta, however, disagrees. He tells WWD that he's invited the former Dior designer to join him in his New York studio in the lead-up to fashion week: “John and I have known each other for many years and I am a great admirer of his talent. He has worked long and hard on his recovery and I am happy to give him the opportunity to reimmerse himself in the world of fashion and reacclimate in an environment where he has been so creative.”
Galliano also made a statement: “I am an alcoholic. I have been in recovery for the past two years. Several years prior to my sobriety, I descended into the madness of the disease. I said and did things which hurt others, especially members of the Jewish community. I have expressed my sorrow privately and publicly for the pain which I caused, and I continue to do so. I remain committed to making amends to those I have hurt.”
Well, I guess we'll see how this plays out. I do believe it would be better for you, me and everyone we know — even Galliano himself — if he could just live quietly among friends and stay out of the public eye. Yes, forever.