PARIS (AFP) — Disgraced British designer John Galliano is set to restart his shattered career by taking over the creative direction of the fashion house Maison Martin Margiela, the label said on Monday, three years after he was sacked by Dior following a drunken anti-Semitic tirade in a Paris bar.
Galliano, 53, who spent nearly 15 years at Dior, is widely considered to be one of the most brilliant fashion minds of his generation.
But the designer — known for his theatrical flair in both fashion and life — has been rarely seen since his sacking in March 2011 and subsequent conviction for anti-Semitism.
Galliano’s glittering career imploded after he was captured on a mobile phone video hurling abuse at people in a bar in Paris’s historic Jewish quarter, where he stated his love for Adolf Hitler and told people he believed to be Jewish that their mothers should have been gassed.
The Paris criminal court in September 2011 found him guilty of proffering anti-Semitic insults in public — an offense under French law — on two occasions in February 2011 and October 2010.
He was spared jail and instead given suspended fines after the court accepted that he was sorry for his actions which he blamed on drinking and drugs.
Galliano underwent treatment for drug and alcohol abuse at an Arizona rehabilitation centre following the scandal.
He later told a magazine he had been sickened to see the video evidence against him, insisting he was baffled by the drunken rant.
“It’s the worst thing I have said in my life, but I didn’t mean it… I have been trying to find out why that anger was directed at this race (the Jewish people),” he told Vanity Fair magazine.
“I now realize I was so… angry and so discontent with myself that I just said the most spiteful thing I could.”
In January 2013, the Anti-Defamation League praised Galliano for his “redemption and recovery.”
However, since his fall from grace, Galliano has been almost entirely absent from fashion, apart from a three-week designer-in-residence role at Oscar de la Renta’s workshop in New York in 2013.
Then, in May this year, he reappeared in Moscow as the creative director of Russian cosmetics chain L’Etoile.
Renzo Rosso, whose OTB group controls Margiela, told industry journal Women’s Wear Daily he was delighted to be working with Galliano.
“Margiela is ready for a new charismatic, creative soul,” he was quoted as saying.
“John Galliano is one of the greatest undisputed talents of all time — a unique, exceptional couturier for a maison (house) that has always challenged and innovated the world of fashion.
“I look forward to his return to create that fashion dream that only he can create,” he added.
According to WWD, Galliano will take over all lines at Margiela including couture and both women’s and men’s ready-to-wear collections.
The fashion industry has been awash with speculation in recent months about Galliano’s future although Rosso last month denied rumors that he was to join the house.
The Italian industrialist, nevertheless, made no secret of his admiration for Galliano’s talents.
“Who wouldn’t like to work with him? If he ever got back his name, I would be the first to produce his collections,” WWD quoted him as saying in September.
JTA contributed to this report.