John Galliano’s Not So Warm Welcome Back

STORY BY Emily Kirkpatrick

Published: May 15, 2013

Over the past few months, John Galliano has slowly, tentatively, been laying inroads towards a comeback in fashion. After the monumenta, and fully warranted, backlash to Galliano’s anti-semitic statements in 2011, he went into hiding, only recently emerging merely as a fashion spectator. In fact, his first official reintroduction into the fashion world he once ruled, was simply as Oscar de la Renta’s shadow, trailing the designer through his Fall 2013 season. 

Now, still refusing (tastefully, I might add) to step back into the spotlight, Galliano has agreed to teach a master class at Parsons called “SHOW ME EMOTION.” Seniors in Parsons’s BFA fashion program will be permitted to sign up for the three day long workshop, which will reportedly have a final critique given by Galliano and Parsons Dean Simon Collins.  According to the course description the class, “seeks to engage its participants by provoking the power of emotion in context of fashion practice and exploration of intuitive, perceptive manners of investigational making.”

But, of course, almost overnight a petition appeared on in protest of the designer’s new teaching assignment due to his inflamatory remarks of two years ago. As of now, the petition has 1,096 supporters and only needs 404 more signatures to be approved. The petition states, “It doesn’t matter if it’s for three months or three days, hiring someone who has made such horrific comments shows that the school values Galliano over their entire Jewish student body. It shows they value him over their students’ respect, peace of mind, and heritage.”

Obviously, not all Parsons students feel this way, reactions to the class have been just as mixed as people’s feelings on Galliano himself. However, what this petition fails to note is that Galliano didn’t simply say those terrible things, get fired from the house of Dior, and then disappear on a two year long tropical vacation. He’s spent the last two years of his life on trial for public insult (for which he paid a fine), been in rehab for his pill and alcohol addiction devoting himself to his new-found sobriety, and has been meeting regularly with the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL even released a public statement saying, “We believe that individuals can change their hearts and minds as long as they demonstrate true contrition. Mr. Galliano has worked arduously in changing his worldview and dedicated a significant amount of time to researching, reading, and learning about the evils of anti-Semitism and bigotry.”

Galliano even said to WWD in a recent interview, “Several years prior to my sobriety, I descended into the madness of the disease. I said and did things which hurt others, especially members of the Jewish community. I have expressed my sorrow privately and publicly for the pain which I caused, and I continue to do so. I remain committed to making amends to those I have hurt.”

But, will Galliano’s repentance and self-imposed fashion exile redeem him in the eyes of the public, or at least warrant him a second chance in a field where he was once a master couturier? Or does the vitriol behind a diseased, drunken man’s anti-semitic tirade erase any tiny chance of forgiveness forever? Only time will tell.

Other Stories by Emily Kirkpatrick
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