'I didn’t mean it': John Galliano redesigns his reputation two years after intoxicated anti-Semitic rant

Recovering alcoholic gives first interview since racist outburst

John Galliano was once one of the most quoted and visible figures in the brash world of high fashion.

But the acclaimed British designer has been invisible for the past two years, ever since an intoxicated anti-Semitic rant in a Marais bar in 2011 cost him the reigns of his eponymous label, and of Christian Dior, the Parisian institution he headed since 1996.

Now Galliano has decided the time is right to break his silence in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine that the designer himself states is the first he has ever given sober. Of his drunken outburst that caused his downfall, he says: “It’s the worst thing I have said in my life, but I didn’t mean it.”

Only snippets of the interview have been released thus far – the whole can be read in Vanity Fair’s July issue. But it seems that Galliano discusses his condition with candour. “I was going to end up in a mental asylum or six feet under,” he states of the alcoholism that propelled his downfall.

He also recalls flashing his muscled abdomen to Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of Dior’s parent company LVMH, whilst asking “Does this look like the body of an alcoholic?”

Galliano has always been known for his eclectic personal appearance, echoing the undercurrents of his collections: for his Vanity Fair portrait, shot by Annie Leibovitz, he’s true to form, dressed in piratical get-up whilst perched on a symbolically stormy shoreline.  Stormy is of course the word for the past two years of Galliano’s life, from public outrage and official denouncements immediately following his outburst, to his time in an Arizona rehab facility, where all his belongings were reportedly confiscated.

Galliano’s stormiest time may yet be to come – some will read this interview as an excuse rather than explanation for Galliano’s actions, while the mere mention of his name continues to arouse controversy. The furore caused by plans for Galliano to teach a workshop at New York design school Parsons in April this year eventually caused said programme to be cancelled. The name of the masterclass, ironically, was ‘Show Me Emotion.’

Emotions have always run high around John Galliano: his work has elicited support like no other designer. Models including Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista walked Galliano’s catwalks not for money, but for love (and the occasional dress). In 1994, American Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour secured a financial backer for a then-destitute Galliano.

Some speculated it was Wintour who engineered Galliano’s unofficial return to the industry earlier this year, working with New York designer Oscar de la Renta on his winter 2013 collection, while supermodel Evangelista was the first to make the trek to Arizona to visit Galliano, on his initial weekend in rehab. “I just didn’t want that weekend to go by without anyone reaching out to him,” she tells Ingrid Sischy, herself a close friend of Galliano.

Galliano has been taking certain steps to visibly atone for his actions, including meeting with Jewish leaders, stating that “Even now I’m still learning every day how many people I hurt.”

Sischy herself interviews prominent pillars of the Jewish community, including Rabbi Barry Marcus, of London’s Central Synagogue, and Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League. But in the same piece, she advises to “get ready for his second act.” Indeed, this Vanity Fair profile is just the latest step in the fashion world’s own rehabilitation of John Galliano. It’s a process that promises to be longer and more arduous than his drying-out in Arizona.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower