In the wake of John Galliano's inglorious exit, Harriet Walker sizes up potential successors

The fortunes of the disgraced British fashion designer John Galliano seemed unchanged yesterday, despite him saying sorry for an alleged anti-Semitic rant.

On his lawyer's advice, the couturier kept quiet on Tuesday after he was sacked as creative director of Christian Dior. But no sooner had he issued an "unreserved" apology, in which he accepted that accusations of anti-Semitism made against him had "greatly shocked and upset people", he learnt that prosecutors in Paris had decided to put him on trial over the affair.

Galliano, who continues to deny the claims, was suspended from his post at the French fashion house last week after allegedly launching an attack on a couple sitting on a café terrace in Paris. Footage later emerged of a separate incident which appeared to show him abusing drinkers in the same bar and telling them he loved Adolf Hitler.

Just minutes after Galliano broke his silence, prosecutors said he would stand trial some time between April and June. He faces up to six months in jail and €22,500 in fines if convicted.

In his statement, Galliano said delays in his case had led to him to speak out. He claimed there would be witnesses who had told police he was verbally abused and subjected to an "unprovoked assault" during the incident last Thursday, and that an assailant tried to hit him with a chair.

"For these reasons I have commenced proceedings for defamation and the threats made against me," he said. "However, I fully accept that the accusations made against me have greatly shocked and upset people.

"I must take responsibility for the circumstances in which I found myself and for allowing myself to be seen to be behaving in the worst possible light. I only have myself to blame and I know I must face up to my own failures and that I must work hard to gain people's understanding and compassion."

His future remains uncertain, however, with the news of his dismissal from Dior, one of the most prized jobs in the business. Galliano was the latest in a string of illustrious names at its helm, including Gianfranco Ferre, Yves Saint Laurent and of course Dior himself. When Galliano was appointed in 1996, there was outrage in the world of French couture at the choice of a young Gilbraltarian-British upstart, but he soon won over critics. His dismissal has, however, raised the inevitable questions about his successor.

Pundits are looking to other big names on the fashion scene, but it is more likely that Dior will look on the Paris circuit for its next star. Currently in throes of fashion week, the city saw Lady Gaga modelling for Nicola Formichetti's first womenswear collection for Thierry Mugler last night.

The contenders: Who could take over the house of Dior?

9/4 Hedi Slimane

Current job: Photographer

CV: As creative director of Dior Homme, Slimane revolutionised modern menswear with his super-skinny and severe silhouette; his clothes were so lusted-after that even Karl Lagerfeld went on a diet to fit into them. He was made art director at YSL in 1997, moved to Dior Homme in 2000, and left in 2007.

The look: Goth on a diet.

8/1 Haider Ackermann

Current job: Head of his eponymous label

CV: A graduate of the acclaimed fashion college in Antwerp, Ackermann launched his own label in 2001 and has become a cult name among the cognoscenti for his flattering and sophisticated draped and romantic pieces.

The look: Cocktail hour meets witching hour.

4/1 Kris Van Assche

Current job: Creative director at Dior Homme

CV: A former assistant of Slimane's, Belgian designer Kris van Assche is the quiet powerhouse behind Dior Homme, specialising in classically tailored menswear which is as effortlessly stylish as it is easy to wear, and has broadened the brand's appeal.

The look: Sporty but elegant, informed by utilitarian workwear.

11/8 Stefano Pilati

Current job: Creative director at Yves Saint Laurent

CV: Pilati gave up his training as a surveyor to move into the fashion industry, starting at Cerruti as an intern, before moving to Armani as an assistant in 1993. From there he became assistant designer at Miuccia Prada's Miu Miu label in 1998, before joining Yves Saint Laurent in 2000 and taking the top job two years later.

The look: Strict and darkly coloured feminine tailoring, with a hint of whimsy. Recent collections have included strawberry motifs and votive wimples.

10/1 Phoebe Philo

Current job: Creative Director at Celine

CV: Saint Martin's graduate Philo won the British Fashion Council's Designer of the Year award last December for her work at Celine. She began working as Stella McCartney's assistant at Chloe in 1997 before succeeding her as head designer. In this role she created some of the brand's most famous clothes before leaving in 2006 to spend more time with her family. She took charge at Celine in September 2008, and has been credited as the force behind the recent resurgence of a more pared down aesthetic.

The Look: Sleek and modern minimalism.