'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
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate