Just after John Galliano issued his first public statement today since being charged with anti-Semitism and racism, news broke that the case would go to trial. The designer was suspended from Dior when the scandal first broke, but outright dismissed when a video of him drunkenly proclaiming his love for Hitler leaked online. The designer will stand trial in French criminal court in the second quarter.
In a letter distributed by the London-based law firm, Harbottle & Lewis, Galliano asserts that he "completely den[ies] the claims made against" him, and intends to counter-sue for "defamation and threats."
The designer states that several independent witnesses have approached police with accounts that Galliano was subject to "verbal harassment and an unprovoked assault when an individual tried to hit me with a chair having taken violent exception to my look and my clothing." By pointing to his "look and clothing" as a source of antagonism, Galliano seems to be implying that prior to any anti-Semitic or racist remarks on his part, he was the victim of a hate-based assault on the basis of appearance rather than race or religion.
Galliano continues to emphasize that he's a victim of the same behavior that he's been charged with: "I have fought my entire life against prejudice, intolerance and discrimination having been subjected to it myself."
Still referring to the charges of anti-Semitism as "accusations" despite video evidence from a prior incident, the designer says that he "fully accepts" that the scandal has "greatly shocked and upset people." Galliano ends his statement with an "unreserved" apology for his conduct "in causing any offense."
Fashion insiders have taken to the internet to speak out in support of Galliano. Franca Sozzani, editor of Vogue Italia, posted an editorial to the magazine's website alleging that Galliano was set up in order to drum up journalistic scandal.
On her Facebook page, Patricia Field posted a statement "IN PRAISE OF JOHN GALLIANO." Elsewhere, the stylist has asserted that Galliano's behavior was a performance, "a farce," and that Galliano's detractors just don't get it. Field likens the incident to the "Springtime for Hitler" number in Mel Brooks' The Producers.
Purple editor Olivier Zahm posted a letter to his blog titled, "John, I Love You," arguing that Galliano's actions were a "desperate cry," asking the designer to affirm that his remarks don't reflect what he actually believes: "If you can confirm this for us, the entire fashion world would be able to come back on your side."
In a particularly tone-deaf move, WWD editor Bridget Foley compares the outrage against Galliano to last year's death of Alexander McQueen, and adds: "Who hasn’t at some time told or laughed at a questionable joke based on ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, fat, skinny, whatever, without buying into the real meaning?"
Karl Lagerfeld, for one, isn't interested in defending Galliano. Unlike Bridget Foley, Lagerfeld can't relate to Galliano's actions, and wants to distance both himself and the fashion industry from the entire scandal: ""I'm furious that it could happen because the question is no longer even whether he really said it. The image has gone around the world. It's a horrible image for fashion, because they think every designer and everything in fashion is like this."
- John Galliano "Completely" Denies Making Anti-Semetic Remarks, Has "Commenced Proceedings for Defamation" [The Cut]
- Galliano Issues “Unreserved” Apology; Vows to “Seek Help” [WWD]
- Galliano to Stand Trial [WWD]
- Karl Lagerfeld is "Furious" with Galliano for Slur [NYDailyNews]
- WWD Editor Compares John Galliano's Firing to McQueen's Death [The Cut]
- Pat Field Has John Galliano Conspiracy Theories [StyleCaster]
- John, I Love You [Purple Diary]
- Vogue Italia's Defense of Galliano's Anti-Semitic Remarks [Refinery29]