Fashion icon dropped for antisemitism may get job back

John Galliano, arguably the most controversial fashion designer of the early 21st century, is strongly rumoured to be on the verge of full-scale rehabilitation — almost 13 years after a drunken antisemitic outburst lost him his job as creative director of Christian Dior.

Rumours abound in Paris that Galliano, presently head designer for the niche Belgian company Maison Margiela, is about to be rehired by the company which owns Dior, the luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessey Louis Vuitton.

The Gibraltar-born (and Croydon-raised) Galliano was at the top of his game in 2011, when two videos emerged showing him unleashing a tirade of vicious antisemitic insults at Jewish women in a Paris bar, La Perle. Dior fired him immediately, and he was later found guilty of racism and antisemitism and given a suspended fine of 6,000 euros.

The fashion world divided into supporters and opponents of Galliano, with some high-profile people such as Israeli-born actress Natalie Portman declaring they would never wear his creations again, while others, such as the powerfully influential editor of American Vogue, Anna Wintour, championed him as he tearfully made the rounds of Jewish leaders, apologising for his behaviour.

Three years ago, Kevin Macdonald, the Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker, decided to investigate the Galliano case. Macdonald, who made the acclaimed One Day in September, about the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli athletes, and is the grandson of the Hungarian Jewish film director Emeric Pressburger, released his warts’n’all film on Galliano in March this year.

Critics found the film fascinating, but said it still never explained what lay behind Galliano’s antisemitic outbursts.

Now the fashion rumour mill is alive with suggestions that Galliano’s rehabilitation is complete and that LVMH is about to re-hire him. Word on the street is that he will replace the chief designer for Celine, also owned by LVMH, Hedi Slimane. Slimane is said to be leaving because of differences with management about his level of creative control. It remains to be seen whether the famously outspoken John Galliano can pare back his behaviour a second time around.

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