John Galliano once stunned the fashion world with designs of astonishing art and imagination. Then, came the fall. Two horrendous anti-semitic rants in Paris, his resulting sacking from creative director of Christian Dior in March 2011, admissions of valium and alcohol abuse, and a trial. Last year, France stripped him of the Legion D’Honneur it awarded him in 2009.
But now Galliano is returning.
On Friday, it was announced that the 52-year-old enfant terrible has been offered a temporary residence at Oscar de la Renta’s New York studio for three weeks, as de la Renta prepares for New York Fashion Week.
“John and I have known each other for many years and I am a great admirer of his talent,” de la Renta said. “He has worked long and hard on his recovery and I am happy to give him the opportunity to reimmerse himself in the world of fashion and reacclimate in an environment where he has been so creative.”
According to The Guardian, Anna Wintour, editor in chief of US Vogue, brokered the arrangement. During his exile Galliano has had some support from the industry he once ascended. The aforementioned Wintour and also Kate Moss — the Brit model asked Galliano to design her wedding dress in July 2011.
Of his much-publicized drunken Paris outburst that cost him his livelihood and reputation, Galliano told Women’s Wear Daily:
“I am an alcoholic. I have been in recovery for the past two years. Several years prior to my sobriety, I descended into the madness of the disease. I said and did things which hurt others, especially members of the Jewish community. I have expressed my sorrow privately and publicly for the pain which I caused, and I continue to do so. I remain committed to making amends to those I have hurt.”
Galliano’s gratitude is palpable in the brief statement he made to Vogue:
“I am grateful to Oscar beyond words for inviting me to spend time with him in the familiar surroundings of a design studio. His support and faith in me is humbling.”
For his part, de la Renta has dismissed any idea that the move is part of plan to name Galliano as his successor if he ever decides to retire, instead declaring:
“While I’m working on a collection, I sit with all of my assistants around me. I’m not a loner. I listen to everyone. I wish the Virgin Mary would come and sit next to me. I love to be surrounded by people.”
The Anti-Defamation League — a Jewish run organization that protests anti-Semitism — has spoken out in support of Galliano’s return to fashion. ADL’s national director, Abraham H. Foxman told Vogue:
“We believe that individuals can change their hearts and minds as long as they demonstrate true contrition. Mr Galliano has worked arduously in changing his world view and dedicated a significant amount of time to researching, reading and learning about the evils of anti-Semitism and bigotry. Along his journey to recovery he met with us on numerous occasions. He has accepted full responsibility for his previous remarks and understands that hurtful comments have no place in our society.”
Bringing up the rear, UK Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman enthused: “Oscar de la Renta is the king of uptown style and John Galliano the prince of romantic glamour, so it should be a magical match. I am delighted John’s returning to fashion.”
It seems the mat on the fashion’ s front door says welcome, after all.