It seems impossible that the reserved gentleman who answered Charlie Rose’s questions sotto voce could be the same drunken anti-Semite seen in a grainy video taken in a Paris bar. In that 2010 clip, Dior designer John Galliano spewed hatred. Asked if he was a natural blond, he replied, “No, but I love Hitler.” It only got worse from there.
Galliano was promptly fired from Dior and let go from the line that bears his name.
Now Galliano is on the apology circuit. “When I saw it, I threw up,” he tells Vanity Fair of the infamous video. Drunk and on drugs that night, Galliano says he has no memory of it. He told Rose on June 12 that he is trying to make amends.
The designer says he has gotten sober, read books on Jewish history, met with Jewish leaders. In return, the fashion community is showing cautious support. But can the rest of the world forget what it saw and heard? Unlikely.
In 2006, an inebriated Mel Gibson told a police officer that “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world” as he was being arrested for DUI. Gibson quickly became a late-night punch line, and his movie career tanked.
Charlie Sheen was accused of anti-Semitism for referring to “Two and a Half Men” creator Chuck Lorre by his Hebrew name multiple times during his very public meltdown. Sheen’s stock plunged.
Will celebrities wear clothes by a similarly sullied Galliano on the red carpet? It’s difficult to envision an actress telling Ryan Seacrest,“It’s a Galliano, isn’t it fab?”
Galliano’s steps toward rehabilitation should be applauded, but think of the designer now and hate speech leaps to mind before fashion. No amount of apologizing is going to change that.Christopher Muther can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther.