Up until now, the word ‘Poison’, (as it related to the house of Christian Dior), was just the name of one of its fragrances, introduced in 1985. However, at this moment, it’s a word that can be used to describe the venomous thoughts that are apparently harbored in the mind of its star creator, John Galliano. (And boy, talk about not biting the hand that feeds you!).
As a first generation American daughter of Jewish, European born parents whose almost entire families were wiped out in Poland and Czechoslovakia, during Hitler’s reign of terror, I had a knee jerk reaction and felt as though I had been kicked in the stomach upon hearing and seeing John Galliano’s videotaped vitriolic tirade, during which time he said, “I love Hitler," and, "People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be f**king gassed."
I always wish to give a person the benefit of the doubt, don’t want to rush to judgment, and I always want to know the whole story before coming to a conclusion. What I do know about the events that led to John Galliano’s firing from Dior, is what everyone else knows at this moment. The man is obviously troubled and in need of help. And he showed a shocking lapse of good judgment. Someone as high profile as he, whose name is attached to such an iconic and revered fashion label, has a certain public responsibility and that must be kept in mind at all times.
I venture to say many of us would be SHOCKED if we knew some of the REAL thoughts lurking inside the minds of many of our most revered fashion designers (some of whom I'm convinced, are most oft times, laughing all the way to the bank). And most of us will probably never really get to know the designers whose names are on the labels sewn inside some of our favorite pieces. But when you are spending well into the thousands of dollars (as you would be for anything that is Christian Dior), it would be nice to know- or be made to feel- that the designer at the helm, is on your side, wants to make you look and feel beautiful, and has your best interests at heart (and not making obsene comments about you based upon your religion).
But quite frankly, almost as puzzling and unacceptable as Mr. Galliano’s hate spewing anti Semitic, drunken outbursts, are the reactions and comments of those in the fashion community, who are attempting to make light of, trivialize or wave off his comments and actions, as something to be ‘expected’, something that ‘comes with the territory’ of being a high profile designer, with all the pressures and stresses of having to produce endless collections, keep on top of one’s game, and stay relevant. I’m especially shocked by Patricia Field’s email sent yesterday to 500 friends, blogs, and media, in support of Galliano during which time she described the designer’s controversial video as “farce”, said he was “acting out a character”, and said she was bewildered that people in the fashion community have not recognized it as such.
“People in fashion, all they do is go and see John Galliano theater every season. That’s what he gives them. To me, this was the same, but people in fashion don’t recognize the farce in it. All of a sudden they don’t know him. But it’s OK when it’s Mel Brooks’ ‘The Producers’ singing ‘Springtime for Hitler.’ OMG Pat. This is so NOT an apt comparison.
When people pay to see a Mel Brooks show, they know up front they are going to see something irreverent, mad, and off the wall. Mel Brooks is Jewish and the entire production was a farce. And by the way, nowhere in the play, was there an almost unthinkably insensitive and inhumane line that said “I love Hitler”, or one that made fun of people being gassed or killed in ovens. For me, (during Adolf Eichmann’s trial in Israel, during which time images of death camps kept reappearing, I would have recurring nightmares of being carted away to a gas chamber or crematorium), and for many others I’m sure, this one hit a bit too close to home.
FYI: Now that Galliano is officially ‘out’, the guessing game of who will replace him has begun. In Cathy Horyn’s cover story for The New York Times, “Protecting Its Brand, Dior Fires Star Designer Caught in Scandal”, she mentioned two possible names, Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy, and Alber Elbaz, who currently designs for Lanvin. It would be especially ironic if it was the latter, because Alber is an Israeli born Jew.