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Stunned fashion world mourns fallen 'genius' Galliano

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AFP
Published
today Mar 2, 2011
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March 2 - Paris Fashion Week was abuzz Wednesday with shocked talk of the fallen superstar of haute couture, John Galliano, who was sacked by the house of Dior over a drunken, anti-semitic rant.

John Galliano
John Galliano (photo by Pixel Formula)

As catwalk shows were underway for the labels' autumn-winter ready-to-wear collections, industry insiders expressed regret at the fall from grace of the 50-year-old British designer, considered by many here a genius.

"I'll miss you John, you're so talented," wrote the 24-year-old Canadian supermodel Jessica Stam on her Twitter feed, adding: "I love the Jews and what he said is awful, but also sad to watch him leave Dior".

Her Californian counterpart Chanel Imam, 20, also took to the microblogging site to defend the former icon, who was sacked after the British daily The Sun published a video of him abusing patrons in a Paris cafe.

"I love John Galliano," she wrote. "I've been working with him for years and he is one of the most amazing, genius men in this business.

"He is one of the most creative, genius designers that I've worked with and he's so open to all types of people. He's loving and he's caring and I wish him all the best," she added.

John Galliano
Jessica Stam's Twitter page

Most of the designers, models and style-writers attending the week's shows were tight-lipped with the press, preferring not to draw more attention to the industry's embarrassment, made clear in Dior's statement on Tuesday.

"I condemn in the strongest terms the things said by John Galliano, which are in complete opposition to the essential values that have always been defended by the Christian Dior house," said managing director Sidney Toledano.

The fashion house described the behaviour and language of its chief designer, as shown in the amateur video, as "particularly odious" and said he would be dismissed from his high-profile job in short order.

In the footage, apparently shot in Galliano's local Paris cafe La Perle, the visibly drunk couturier tells two women: "I love Hitler. People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed."

Asked where he is from, Galliano replies: "Your arsehole."

The video followed two complaints lodged against Galliano last week with the Paris police, after he was arrested and questioned, alleging that he had launched similar anti-semitic tirades on two other occasions.

Galliano has denied he used anti-semitic language, and threatened to sue his accusers, but The Sun's video was the last straw for Dior and many others in an industry that can only thrive by maintaining a glamorous image.

"I think Galliano made a terrible mistake and such offensive behaviour could not be ignored," British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, told the influential Style.com website, part of the global Vogue empire.

"It is all the same true that he has a huge talent and has contributed enormously to the resurrection of the house of Dior. Who can predict what the future will bring?" she added.

In New York, the bible of the global fashion daily, Women's Wear Daily, wrote: "A fashion giant has fallen."

"The dismissal marks one of the most dramatic designer flameouts in recent history, and interrupts a spectacular career, robbing fashion of one of its greatest showmen," it said, in its lead story.

On Monday, shortly before Dior fired Galliano, Scott Schuman, the closely followed street fashion photographer behind thesatorialist.com, blogged that he hoped the designer would be able to turn his life back upright.

"In my eyes, it (the video) shows a sad man willing to say anything to hurt others as a desperate cry for help," wrote Schuman. "I hope he is relieved of his duties and that he seeks out the professional help he obviously needs."

Dior's own Paris show is scheduled to go ahead on Friday.

by Robert MacPherson

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