Oscar de la Renta will host John Galliano at his design studio in New York for the next three weeks, WWD reports. De la Renta explains that he's opening his doors to the disgraced designer, an old friend of his, as a gesture to encourage Galliano's reentry to the industry. He tells WWD:
John and I have known each other for many years and I am a great admirer of his talent... 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.
Everyone in life deserves a second chance, especially someone as talented as John. I think that life is about forgiving and helping people.…I think John is doing all the right things.
This is Galliano's first career-related development since he made anti-Semitic remarks while drunk at a bar in Paris nearly two years go, actions that cost him his dignity, his jobs at both Dior and his own eponymous label, and, according to some, any future in the industry. He pled guilty to all charges, citing alcohol addiction, and a French court ordered him to pay a fine of €6,000 (about $8,000). He also spent extensive time in rehab and retreated almost entirely from public life, with the exception of Kate Moss's wedding (he designed her dress) and a few sightings in Paris and New York, including lunch dates with Grace Coddington and Anna Wintour, the latter of whom is, notably, a very close friend of De la Renta's.
This announcement also marks Galliano's first real interview since his conviction. He tells WWD:
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.
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.
So what exactly will Galliano do with these three weeks of studio time, which will run into New York Fashion Week? Neither he nor De la Renta would say; perhaps they don't even really know, and the visit is more of a gesture — a leg up, if you will — than part of a concrete agenda. De la Renta denies that Galliano is in the running to replace him when he retires ("Certainly not"), but did say that he'll seek Galliano's input on his forthcoming fall 2013 collection ("I listen to everyone").
In any case, plenty will agree that Galliano has paid his penance now, and the timing is ripe for his reentry. He even has the blessing of the Anti-Defamation League, one of his most outspoken critics when charges against him were first filed:
We wish him much success and look forward to working with him again in the near future as a spokesman against anti-Semitism, intolerance and bigotry ... We believe that individuals can change their hearts and minds as long as they demonstrate true contrition.
Bravo to De la Renta for giving Galliano a chance at redemption. There's a good chance his best years are ahead.