Dior sacks John Galliano after Natalie Portman refuses to work with designer
But now John Galliano is heading back to the shadows after he was dismissed as Christian Dior’s head designer for drunken and anti-Semitic tirades.
The British star, who was suspended last week, may now find himself making an eagerly awaited public appearance in a Paris courtroom on charges of voicing racist insults. Christian Dior denounced his behaviour as “odious” and said that the designer had been fired with immediate effect.
Galliano’s grip on one of the most coveted jobs in the fashion industry had been weakened by mounting evidence of his inebriated ravings in a bar near his home in Paris’s Marais district.
Two lawsuits were filled by people he had allegedly insulted and a video was released on the internet that showed the designer saying “I love Hitler”. The coup de grace was delivered by Natalie Portman, the Oscar-winning actress who is the face of Dior’s Miss Dior Cherie perfume.
She told the fashion house that she would walk away from her contract unless it cut ties with Galliano.
“I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano’s comments,” Portman said. “In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr Galliano in any way. I hope at the very least these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful.”
Sidney Toledano, the chief executive of Dior Couture, who is from an eminent Jewish family, said: “I very firmly condemn what was said by John Galliano, which totally contradicts the values which have always been defended by Christian Dior.”
Bernard Arnault, who owns Dior, was understood to be considering cutting his ties with Galliano’s own brand as well. A spokesman for Galliano insisted that his personal show on Sunday, as part of Paris Fashion Week, would go ahead as planned.
Mr Toledano has not yet said whether he will unveil the autumn collection created by Galliano, 50, for Dior in a show scheduled for Friday.
By then, the Paris prosecution service spokeswoman may have announced whether to put the designer on trial for voicing insults of a racist nature in public – an offence that carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a fine of euros 22,500.
An investigation was launched after Geraldine Bloch, 35, and Philippe Virgitti, 41, said that Galliano had insulted them in racist and anti-Semitic terms in La Perle bar last week. The publicity surrounding his arrest prompted a 48-year-old woman to file a lawsuit alleging that Galliano had verbally abused her in the same bar in a separate incident last October.
Although the designer denies using racist or anti-Semitic terms, his case was undermined when The Sun published a video showing what appears to be a third incident from December.
“I love Hitler and people like you would be dead today. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be f…ing gassed and f…ing dead,” Galliano told a group of people sitting at the table next to him.
When an unidentified woman asks: “Do you have a problem?” Galliano answers: “With you you’re ugly.” She says: “Where are you from?” Galliano replies: “Your a…hole?”
In the two other incidents it is alleged that a slurring and drunken Galliano leaned over to their tables to insult them – and particularly the women, who he described as ugly – before launching into an anti-Semitic rant.
Mrs Bloch said: “He butted in and asked me to shut my gob, saying that I was a dirty whore, because he couldn’t stand my voice, because I was foul and I shouldn’t even have been born I was so ugly, and cheap and tacky.”
She said that he described her as a Jewish c… and her friend as a f…ing Asian bastard.
Although police cannot find any witnesses to corroborate Mrs Bloch’s claims, an officer said: “Two lawsuits for insults such as dirty Jew, plus a filmed scene of Mr Galliano in a state of advanced drunkenness: all that weaves a rather worrying web around this designer.”
Dior said that it was unaware of Galliano’s disturbing behaviour until last week, but fashion industry sources said that his drunkenness had become common knowledge. “I can’t count the number of times he has had to be carried home,” said one source.
Some commentators suggested that Mr Arnault was already looking to get rid of the Streatham designer, who he plucked from obscurity in the early 1990s.
Galliano’s rock-star poses and once revolutionary shows had become an embarrassment to Dior in the more sober post-crisis era, critics said.
Marcellous Jones, the editor-in-chief of thefashioninsider.com magazine, said: “It marks a dramatic end to one of the greatest errors in the history of the house of Dior in terms of its international reputation.”
Eric Rocheblave, a lawyer specialising in employment law, said: “Dior, which has an international and therefore multiracial customer base, can cite fears of a slowdown in sales to justify this procedure.”