If you thought you had witnessed the end of John Galliano’s fashion designing career when you viewed the infamous video of him letting loose a drug-and-alcohol-fueled anti-Semitic rant in a Paris cafe back in February 2011, you had better think again.
Not even former Dior ambassador Natalie Portman’s condemnation of Galliano was enough to keep him out of the atelier for good.
Reportedly clean, sober and clear on why saying stuff like “I love Hitler” and “Dirty Jew face, you should be dead” is not okay, the once flamboyant, but now more buttoned-down, designer made his official comeback on Monday during London’s Men’s Fashion Week with the showing of a new women’s Artisanal (upcycled handcrafted pieces) line for the Margiela label.
Galliano, 54, was unemployed for a significant stretch after he was sacked by Christian Dior almost immediately after the videotaped rant surfaced. (Later, in November 2011, he was tried and found guilty of public insults based on origin, religion, race or ethnicity).
A couple of years ago Oscar de la Renta allowed Galliano, who went to rehab in Arizona, to use his studio for a few weeks to get back in touch with designing. In May 2014, he got a job at a Russian perfumery chain, and then last fall it was announced that the formerly disgraced Galliano had been made creative director of Maison Martin Margiela.
The designer’s return to the catwalk was warmly received by the small group of friends and fans who turned up for Monday’s show. Among the 100 guests in attendance were Vogue editor Anna Wintour, designer Alber Elbaz and shoe artiste Manolo Blahnik.
Despite all the hype that preceded Monday’s show, some have been critical of Galliano, calling his choice to launch his comeback with a small Artisinal show in London, rather than a full-blown couture show in Paris, too timid.
Perhaps it is not obvious to them that Galliano, who may or may not like to dress like a Hasidic Jew, could have picked up a little bit of yiddishkeit during educational sessions he had with the Anti-Defamation League on the evils of anti-Semitism and bigotry. It seems he learned that true teshuva (repentance) is best done one step at a time, instead of all at once.
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