Several new details of the incident that cost designer John Galliano his job at Christian Dior — and that has led to him facing criminal charges at a trial set to take place in Paris this Wednesday — have emerged, and goodness, they are interesting. Read on for chair-throwing, lawyer-calling, and handbag-related insults. Oh! And lots of (alleged) anti-Semitism and racism.
As John Galliano remembers the fateful February evening in Paris that destroyed his career, it began when the stranger at the sidewalk table next to him at La Perle café asked Dior's star designer, "Why don't you dress women like me?" As the woman herself remembers it, she had no idea who the longhaired man with the buccaneer look was. She thought he was homeless.
Within an hour, the argument between Galliano and the woman at that next table, a museum curator named Géraldine Bloch, ended with Galliano in police custody. Galliano had allegedly called Bloch "a dirty whore" with a "dirty Jewish face," who should die. Bloch also alleges that Galliano pulled her hair, called her eyebrows "revolting," and said she had "low-end boots and low-end thighs." (This sort of matches earlier reports from witnesses who said that Galliano told Bloch, "You're ugly and your fucking bag is ugly, too," and "You're so ugly I can't bear looking at you. You're wearing cheap boots, cheap thigh boots. You've got no hair, your eyebrows are ugly, you're ugly, you're nothing but a whore.")
Galliano denies ever having made these insults, and he denies calling Philippe Virgitti, a man Bloch was sitting with, a "fucking Asian bastard" and "a dirty Asian shit." At one point, Galliano's driver called the designer's lawyer. For some reason, the driver tried to put the lawyer on the phone with Bloch — either to calm her down or warn her off, Newsweek speculates. Bloch refused, and a security guard allegedly "told her it was Galliano and that she could just change seats." A witness interviewed by police said Galliano asked Virgitti, who was born in France but is of Asian descent, whether he had his papers. Virgitti allegedly threatened to break a chair over Galliano's head; other witnesses say that he "aggressively charged" Galliano's seat. Eventually, Virgitti and Bloch called the police, and Galliano was on his way to the station.
By the morning, Galliano had been suspended from his job at Dior. Then, another person claimed that the designer had made anti-Semitic comments to her at the same bar. And video surfaced of Galliano telling yet another group of people at that bar "I love Hitler...people like you would be dead, your mothers, your forefathers, you'd all be fucking gassed." Natalie Portman, a face of Dior, released a statement condemning Galliano. "I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way," she said. Dior fired him shortly thereafter. He would go on to lose his job at his own namesake label, which is 92% owned by Dior's parent company.
Galliano's relationship with the house of Dior, particularly C.E.O. Sidney Toledano (who incidentally is Jewish), had been rocky for some time:
Dior's Toledano, the corporate brain behind the company's success, rarely spoke to Galliano. The job of mediating between the two men and their two worlds fell to Galliano's close friend, Steven Robinson. When Robinson died suddenly in 2007, many of Galliano's admirers believe, the designer's personal decline began in earnest. His behavior grew more erratic, his tantrums all too predictable. The tension between Galliano and Toledano was exacerbated by what the designer saw as creative castration. With the global economy in free fall, Galliano's bosses had made it clear that he had to rein it in: hooker-chic was out; corporate couture was in.
Galliano's criminal trial is on Wednesday. Making public anti-Semitic or racist insults in France is a crime punishable by up to six months in prison and a fine of €22,500. Witnesses — including the defendant — will be questioned by a panel of three judges at a trial that is expected to last 4-5 hours. The judges will base their ruling on a dossier compiled by the police that, under the French system, is made available to both the prosecution and the defense. (Newsweek obtained that confidential dossier.)
John Galliano is not totally friendless, though: heiress, couture collector, and socialite Daphne Guinness still has nice things to say about him. In fact, Galliano's outburst reminds her of the designer Alexander McQueen's 2010 suicide. "He was drunk and isolated and looking for the most outrageous thing he could say, and instead of hanging himself, he just said something," she said. "Maybe he has a secret stash of Nazi uniforms, but I just don't think so."
The Galliano Dossier [Newsweek]
John Galliano Arrested Following Alleged Anti-Semitic Attack [Updated]
John Galliano: "I Completely Deny The Allegations Made Against Me"
Watch Dior Designer John Galliano Say "I Love Hitler"
Natalie Portman Condemns Galliano Despite Dior Contract