08 September 2011
The French fashion house Dior’s former chief designer John Galliano has been found guilty by a Paris court of “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity” and given suspended fines totaling US$ 8,400 for making anti-Semitic slurs against customers at a Paris café on two separate occasions. One of the two incidents happened last February. It was recorded in an amateur video which showed Galliano expressing admiration for Hitler and telling customers in a bar that they “would have been gassed”. In the weeks following the incident, Galliano was also dropped from his own fashion brand, 'John Galliano', which is 92 per cent-owned by Dior, and hecame under fire from high profile fashion leaders like Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld.
A French couple having a beer outside a bar in Paris's Marais district said Galliano had repeatedly insulted them with lines including "Dirty Jewish face", "Fucking ugly Jewish bitch" and "Fucking Asian bastard". Geraldine Bloch, 35, said he first asked her to shut up, then criticized her clothes, hair, thighs, eyebrows and make-up. He had made 30 anti-Jewish insults in the space of 45 minutes, she said. Another woman said he made similar insults to her in the same bar in October.
When the video became public Galliano was immediately sacked by Dior. Making abusive comments about individuals because of their origin, religion or race is a criminal offense in France. Galliano apologized “unreservedly” for “causing any offense”. However, the 50-year-old, who is credited with reviving the Christian Dior brand, told the court that he had no memory of the incidents in which he allegedly made the comments, citing addictions to alcohol and medication. “I managed to turn creativity into a billion-dollar business,” he said of his career at Dior, adding that he drank heavily “after every creative high”.
Born in Gibraltar, the son of a British father and a Spanish mother, Galliano said mixed roots defined his work and that he was not racist. In a statement earlier this year, Galliano accepted the accusations had "greatly shocked and upset people" but denied the claims made against him. However, he added: "I must take responsibility for the circumstances in which I found myself and for allowing myself to be seen to be behaving in the worst possible light. I only have myself to blame and I know that I must face up to my own failures and that I must work hard to gain people's understanding and compassion."
“Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologize for my behavior in causing any offense,” he added. The fashion designer did not attend the reading of the verdict at the Paris court.
Although Galliano will not have to fork out any money in fines, he was ordered to pay US$ 23,200 in court fees the Bloch and two other plaintiffs, as well as five anti-racism associations. The court also ordered him to pay a symbolic euro1 ($1.40) in damages to each. Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, criticized the ruling. "It is outrageous that someone who told others that they 'ought to be dead' and expressed support for the Holocaust gets away with less than a slap on the wrist," Kantor said. "This sentence demonstrates that there appears to be a culture of impunity in the entertainment world."
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