Galliano awaits ruling over unstylish outburst
AFP · 8 Sep 2011, 10:24
Published: 08 Sep 2011 10:24 GMT+02:00
Six months after he was sacked as the superstar chief designer at French fashion house Dior, the flamboyant 50-year-old Briton faces a fine or even a prison term over his reported drunken outbursts.
Once known for strutting onto the catwalk to steal the limelight at the end of his own shows, Galliano has chosen to avoid exposure on the last day of his trial, staying away and allowing his lawyers to hear the verdict.
But, while the hearing itself will be less of a media circus than his last court appearance, the fashion world is agog to learn if the fallen star will be condemned as a foul-mouthed bigot or allowed to rebuild a reputation.
Once one of the most celebrated designers of his generation, Galliano faces up to six months in jail and a fine of €22,500 ($32,000) if convicted -- although prosecutors asked the judges to apply only a €10,000 fine.
Galliano insists he is not an anti-Semite but admits he can not remember the evenings of October 8, 2010 and February 24, 2011 -- blaming a "triple addiction" to drink, sleeping pills and painkillers for his behaviour.
According to several witnesses, on those nights the designer subjected fellow patrons of the La Perle cafe in Paris' fashionable Marais district to streams of foul-mouthed and bigoted anti-Jewish and anti-Asian abuse.
He allegedly called one witness "a fucking ugly Jewish bitch".
Video footage of a third incident, posted online, shows Galliano declaring "I love Hitler" and telling a couple at the next table: "People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed."
Prosecutor Anne de Fontette accepted during the trial that Galliano "is not an ideologue of anti-Jewish or anti-Asian racism.
But, in a remark that must have stung the once cutting-edge couturier she branded the remarks "everyday racism and anti-Semitism, that of car parks and supermarkets, which is pitiful and disgusting."
The hearing is due to start at Paris' main criminal court at 1130 GMT, with the verdict coming shortly afterwards.
Christian Dior, which has taken its time finding a successor to Galliano, has firmly distanced itself from the designer and declined to comment ahead of the verdict.
For last March's ready-to-wear collections, Dior tasked Galliano's longtime right-hand man Bill Gaytten to oversee a show inspired by everything from early 1980s Paris nightlife to the architect Frank Gehry.
But with the Spring-Summer 2012 fashion season kicking off this month, Dior was reportedly poised to announce a successor -- with America's hottest designer, the kilt-wearing, tattooed Marc Jacobs, tipped for the job.
Since 1997, the 48-year-old New Yorker has held the helm of Louis Vuitton, the flagship fashion brand of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) luxury giant, which is owned in turn by Groupe Christian Dior.