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Is Galliano done with the luxury industry?

September 12, 2011

John Galliano


Following a lengthy trial in Parisian courts, former Christian Dior creative director John Galliano has been found guilty of a hate crime for an act committed in February. This is leading industry experts to wonder whether or not his reign in the luxury industry is over.

Mr. Galliano was allegedly caught on-tape spewing religious, racial and ethnic insults, according to various reports. In addition to losing his tenure position at Dior, he was also unable to continue working at the self-labeled brand John Galliano, which is also owned by Dior.

“In the short term, it is going to be devastating,” said Al Ries, chairman of Roswell, GA-based marketing consultancy Ries & Ries. “He will likely find it extremely difficult to obtain another fashion job for at least a couple of years.

“In the long term, however, if John Galliano reforms and keeps his name out of the media, it's possible that he could return to the fashion world,” he said.

The John Galliano brand declined comment for this article.

Purple haze

Mr. Galliano has been fined $8,195 by the Paris courts for racist, ethnic and religious slurs.

Since he has made public apologies and has sought council for drug and alcohol problems, the fines Mr. Galliano has to pay have been suspended, according to various reports.

To add insult to injury, the former head of Dior was  also found guilty of public insults for an additional incident last year.

Mr. Galliano allegedly made 30 anti-Jewish insults in the space of 45 minutes, according to a report from British newspaper The Guardian.

After word spread, the consequences for Mr. Galliano and Dior were immediate (see story).

Actress and brand ambassador Natalie Portman changed her dress choice for the Academy Awards from Dior at the last moment because of the news.


Natalie Portman in Rodarte at the Oscars

Ms. Portman went on to win the Oscar for Best Actress and likely would have attracted a lot of attention to the brand.

Dior also released a statement announcing the commencement of termination proceedings of Mr. Galliano and refuting any connection between the former employee’s statements and the brand’s values and ethics.

“We unequivocally condemn the statements made by John Galliano which are in total contradiction to the longstanding core values of Christian Dior,” Sidney Toledano, chairman/CEO of Christian Dior Couture, Paris, said in a prepared statement, at the time.

Staying afloat

Seven months later, Mr. Galliano is still seeing repercussions from his actions. However, experts do not think that this is the absolute end of his presence in the luxury industry.

“It's a terrific setback, but other celebrities have recovered from from even worse problems,” Mr. Ries said.

“There's an enormous advantage to having a celebrity name,” he said. “Furthermore, as time goes on, people tend to forget bad things that have happened in the past.”

However, Mr. Galliano has other battles to face.


The John Galliano Fall/Winter 2011 collection

Since the John Galliano brand belongs to Dior, he will have trouble reclaiming the label.

Furthermore, he is unlikely to find another position until he can reclaim the line, per Mr. Ries.

“He should do nothing except stay out of trouble,” Mr. Ries said. “No fashion house will touch him for some period of time.”

Final Take

Rachel Lamb, associate reporter on Luxury Daily, New York