By: Kelly Ahern, guest blogger
As rumors circulate and press intensifies, John Gallianoâ€™s Thursday night arrest continues to send shockwaves through the fashion industry.
Upon hearing the allegations that Galliano reportedly assaulted and made anti-Semitic comments toward a Parisian couple, he was suspended from his professional role within the House of Dior.
“The House of Dior declares with the greatest firmness its policy of zero tolerance with regard to any anti-Semitic or racist statement or attitude,” Dior Chief Executive, Sidney Toledano, said in a recent statement.
“Pending the outcome of the inquiry, Christian Dior has suspended John Galliano from all duties,” Toledano later explained.
As with every story there are two sidesâ€”one which paints the British-born designer as racially and religiously insensitive and another which claims that not all is as it seems.
The heated exchange of angry words took place at La Perle cafÃ© in the trendy, and commonly fashion-forward, Marais district, which coincidentally has also historically been home to the area’s Jewish community.
The 50 year-old designer was believed to be heavily drinking before he verbally accosted the couple; a middle-aged Jewish woman and her friend, a male of Asian-descent. His alleged statements were beyond rude, harsh and incredibly upsettingâ€”however what really is the truth?
With an arrest just days before the onset of Paris Fashion Week, the fashion world is a buzz. The affect that Gallianoâ€™s suspension will have on not only the Dior label, but the fashion industry as a whole is still in speculation.
Gallianoâ€™s Dior AW 2011 show is currently scheduled for Friday, March 4th, while his namesake collection is due to be presented on Sunday, March 6th. There have been no further updates as to whether either show will continue as scheduled or be canceled.
A recent video interview posted by the UKâ€™s Telegraph gave Italian Vogue editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani the opportunity to weigh in on Gallianoâ€™s situation, summarizing a key common belief that many shareâ€”we donâ€™t know the truth of what really happened.
â€œI wasnâ€™t there, you werenâ€™t thereâ€¦â€ the Italian fashion editor stated, so how can we pass judgment? She added that if the accusations are true, this event wouldnâ€™t just be terrible news for the fashion community, but â€œterrible news for the human worldâ€.
Sozzaniâ€™s commentary leads many to wonder how other industry leaders and celebrities will react.
Will Galliano â€“ who has built up quite a star-studded following â€“ face negative backlash?
The Huffington Post reported earlier this week that Kate Moss had chosen Galliano to design her wedding dress. Additionally, it has also been widely assumed that Natalie Portman, the face of Diorâ€™s Miss Cherie fragrance, would be wearing the label to the 83rd annual Academy Awardsâ€”however, with Portman being Israeli, if the accusations are true, may we see a sudden shift in allegiance toward the designer?
The head designerâ€™s very abrupt suspension came barely a day after the arrest, making it extremely clear that those in charge at Dior certainly want to distance their French fashion brand from this PR fiasco as quickly as possible.
The truth is that Public Relations is all about creating and building a specific image, and whoever controls that image has the power. Without a doubt, Dior wants that controlâ€”and rightfully so.
As part of the billionaire Bernard Arnault’s LVMH luxury empire â€“ which boasts fashion gold such as Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Givenchy, amongst others â€“ there not only is a lot of capital involved but a strong, powerful reputation that does not wish to be tarnished.
Gallianoâ€™s chic â€“ yet eccentric â€“ shows are some of the most highly anticipated Paris Fashion Week events. His Dior show has consistently received positive, favorable reviews from clients, fellow industry peers and the fashion pressâ€”yet the eventâ€™s fate and reputation now hang in the balance.
Jean-Pierre Mocho, head of the French Women’s Ready-to-Wear Federation, recently spoke out that there had been no indication that Dior wanted to part ways with its leading designer before Fridayâ€™s announcement.
“I have never heard that it was time for them to change the style or that Galliano should leave,” he stated.
So whatâ€™s next for couture designer?
Whether Galliano truly is guilty of slinging anti-Semitic slurs â€“ or not â€“ he has some serious damage control ahead of him.
Rebuilding his image will take work. A simple apologetic statement wonâ€™t be enough to appease those who feel wronged or have been offendedâ€”however at the same time, the truth may never be known in its entirety.
What we do know is: there was alcohol involved, the upcoming fashion week brings stress and tension and finally, there are reported witnesses who have stepped forward to defend both parties involved.
Moving forward in his defense â€“ and preliminary reputation management â€“ Galliano’s lawyer, Stephane Zerbib, recently released a statement which called Dior’s reaction â€œextremely excessiveâ€.
Zerbib also said Galliano is “shocked” that the French brand was so quick to suspend him from his duties pending the outcome of the completed police investigation.
“He is not guilty and is not embroiled in a court case or anything. He feels it is a decision that has been made without verification of the facts and based on one side of the story and he is very shocked about that.”
Zerbib concluded that the designer is considering the need to file a defamation charge against the Parisian couple.
It certainly will be interesting to see how this case plays out and furthermore how it affects not only the Dior label but Gallianoâ€™s reputation as a respected, beloved couture designer.
Kelly Ahern is a recent Roger Williams University graduate living in New England. Graduating with a degree in Communications-Public Relations and a Core Concentration in Italian, Ahern is an aspiring PR professional who loves social media, fashion and traveling. Currently she is a Social Media & Content Strategist for a Rhode Island-based digital marketing firm. You can find her on Twitter @Kelly_Ahern.
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