Thursday, 3 March 2011

Fashion's Best Defence

Well, what a week for fashion it's been.  Milan showcased strong collections oozing the sex and glamour it's known for and now we turn to Paris where the heavyweights of fashionprovide us with an inspiring finale.  Paris was also the scene of another big fashion moment, with the implosion of John Galliano's tenure at Dior.  Allegedly intoxicated, Galliano hurled racial and anti-semitic abuse at a Jewish woman and her Asian boyfriend. 

Over the last few days Galliano's week has gone from bad to worse, with an arrest, additional charges levelled against him because of his racist behaviour and an incriminating video that chillingly depicts Galliano declare his love for Hitler.

Unsurprisingly, Galliano has since been fired from Dior, he has made a public apology and announced he is going to rehab, although what for is at the moment unclear.  Additionally, Natalie Portman, currently being lavished in positive press due to her recent personal announcements and Oscar win, has announced she is severing all ties with Galliano - although not Dior itself which suggests she plans to continue as it's face. 

Currently Lagerfeld, Armani, Menkes and Sozzani are the only high profile members of the industry to speak out, yet stunningly, their defences are not "defences" but range from excuses to whispers of conspiracy. 

What seems to be the most shocking in this whole situation is not a talented designer's demise, it is the reluctance of the fashion industry to condemn it.

Menkes, while she does condemn his behaviour, laments the use of video-phones and the high pressure placed on Galliano -as if that was an excuse for his deporable behaviour.  Armani follows a similar vein, again citing pressure as a reason for his comments and saying "I am also very sorry that they videotaped him without him knowing", blaming modern technology and the instantly accessible nature of modern news for Galliano's mistakes. 

But it's not just with Galliano where the fashion industry has fallen silent.  A year ago claims against Terry Richardson branded him a sexual predator with numerous models approaching the Jezebel website with claims against his inappropriate behaviour.  Richardson was also publicly confronted by Rie Rasmussen, a Danish model who claimed the controversial photographer abused his position of power to harrass women. 

Constantly featured in high fashion magazines such as Vogue and it's counterparts and fixated on fetishistic photoshoots where models suck on lollipops and other phallic imagery, it's not hard to imagine these claims as true.  Yet nothing ever came of the allegations and Richardson continues to work.  As, no doubt, will Galliano in a year's time after a healthy time away from the industry and a chance to form a PR strategy.

Fashion is a billion dollar industry, one that holds incredible clout.  Yes, at the end of the day it is just clothes but with figures like Anna Wintour, Kate Moss and Marc Jacobs becoming household names, it is shameful that the industry does not speak out about these incidents.  Celebrated and profitable these Galliano might be, one cannot excuse racist behaviour. 

The fashion industry should own up and speak out, if not for being the decent thing to do, then at risk of being accused of holding such deplorable beliefs as well.

What's your reaction to Galliano's comments and firing?  Are any of you shocked by the industry's silence, or do you disagree?


  1. I think it is disappointing to hear some powerful people in the industry say "he needs support now" and "i've known him so long, he loves all sorts of people" even though their is clearly evidence against that. I'm not so surprised by that though, it is always easier to try and hush a situation rather than actually speak out and say someone was wrong. I am very pleased with how quickly Dior acted with his almost immediate suspension and now obviously his being fired. I'll never deny that he is a very talented man but as a half-jewish person I could never appreciate or support any line or design house he worked for again. To put it simply all I have to say is good riddance to Galliano

  2. alot of people have been seeing this as "o there jumping to conclusions" but he cant be exempt from this even though he is really talented. It feels like high profile people at times feel entiteld and almost above the law. people make mistakes they make mistakes and there are inevitable consequences.

  3. This is a FANTASTIC post and is beautifully written, Bex. I'd actually really like to feature Between Margins in an upcoming 'Blogger Spotlight', if that's OK with you. May I use your header in my post to introduce you?

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I totally agree with you. I think it's actually rather disgusting that simply because he is 'high profile' and an industry 'big hitter', Galliano isn't being fully condemned and reproached for his behaviour. Just because he is (undeniably) talented doesn't mean he is exempt from the standards of a decent human being. The industry needs to learn how to separate a person's professional and personal personas. Just because Galliano's work should be celebrated doesn't mean he should not be condemned for his heinous comments.

    And what's all this about feeling sorry for him being filmed without his knowledge?? I for one am glad this technology exists! That way at least we have a hope of exposing and disposing of racist comments which should have no place in our society! Frankly, if those chilling remarks hadn't been caught on camera Dior would probably have been able to return Galliano to his position shortly after his suspension and without much fuss. I wouldn't mind someone filming me without my knowledge - no matter how intoxicated, I would never have made such dreadful remarks. There are some things you just don't say. It's called decorum.

    On the other hand, I am sure many of these industry professionals who are currently holding their peace are probably personal friends of Galliano and do not know what to make of his comments. I think it is fair to refrain from commenting until you have formed an opinion, but this in no way excuses his behaviour.

    Anyway, fantastic post Bex!

    Laura @

  4. I haven't seen the video, but I'm not inclined to give excuses to people based on intoxication.

    And as for making excuses for technology? I don't buy that either.

    If a tree falls in the woods and you're not there to see it, does the tree still fall? The answer is yes.

    Similarly, if Galliano makes hate slurs and no one's there to videotape them, do the slurs still occur? Yes. But in this case, someone was there to document him. So, there is evidence of hit hate. If no one was around, he still would be racist, his employer just wouldn't know. Had Dior not taken action, the company would have lost a lot of clients.

    On the other hand, I do believe that everyone makes mistakes. He has a lot of apologizing to do, and a long way to go in order to prove he is not the man he displayed on video. The question is: does he want to prove himself or makes excuses and talk his way out of the situation?

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