John Galliano has issued his first official statement regarding his firing from the house of Christian Dior for alleged anti-Semitic remarks made at a Paris café last Thursday. He denies any wrongdoing on that Thursday (which is not the incident captured in the tape of him saying "I love Hitler"), explaining that he was provoked by someone who tried to hit him with a chair and that he is seeking legal action for defamation. The full statement:
Since the events of last Thursday evening I have not been able to make any public comment on what took place based upon advice from my French lawyer. However, given the continuing delays at the French Prosecutor's Office I should make my position clear.
I completely deny the claims made against me and have fully co-operated with the Police investigation.
A number of independent witnesses have given evidence and have told the Police that I was subjected to verbal harassment and an unprovoked assault when an individual tried to hit me with a chair having taken violent exception to my look and my clothing. For these reasons I have commenced proceedings for defamation and the threats made against me.
However, I fully accept that the accusations made against me have greatly shocked and upset people.
I must take responsibility for the circumstances in which I found myself and for allowing myself to be seen to be behaving in the worst possible light. I only have myself to blame and I know that I must face up to my own failures and that I must work hard to gain people's understanding and compassion. To start this process I am seeking help and all I can hope for in time is to address the personal failure which led to these circumstances and try and earn people's forgiveness.
I have fought my entire life against prejudice, intolerance and discrimination having been subjected to it myself. In all my work my inspiration has been to unite people of every race, creed, religion and sexuality by celebrating their cultural and ethnic diversity through fashion. That remains my guiding light.
Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologise for my behaviour in causing any offence.
Meanwhile, Pat Field has called the footage of him saying "I love Hitler" a "farce," and top editors continue to search for a defense for Galliano. The statement might be enough for Purple editor Olivier Zahm, who wrote on his blog that "his drunken anti-Semitic tirade" seems like "more of a desperate cry, a public suicide, a hardcore Brit-punk provocation, than an affirmation of any racist convictions." He continues:
So John, speaking as a member of the fashion community who has always been inspired by your work, I think we are all only waiting for you to publicly excuse yourself, to admit that what you said is just fucking crazy! But mostly that it’s not what you truly believe. If you can confirm this for us, the entire fashion world would be able to come back on your side.
Others still are stepping forward with words of support. Slate.fr fashion writer Antigone Schilling believes the circumstances under which Galliano was taped are being unfairly neglected:
"He was drunk, he was probably drugged, and the people (in the video) were playing with him," Schilling said. "He would never have said that under normal circumstances, and we must remember that. We must also remember what he has brought to Dior over 15 years with the house."
Paris boutique owner Maria Luisa Poumaillou offered this:
"He's a brilliant designer, a wonderful, gentle man and a good friend, and what's happened to him is really sad," she said from her perch at Hakaan, the rising Turkish star who was among several designers battling "la scandale Galliano" for media attention.
Poumaillou made these remarks at the Hakaan show, which was pretty great, for those of you who still care about the clothes over there. Lots of people in the audiences just seem to be following la scandale Galliano on their cellular devices.