Fri, Jun 24, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Galliano blames drugs for anti-Jewish rant

‘VULNERABLE’:Dior’s former creative director apologized to the plaintiffs for making anti-Semitic remarks and told the court that he celebrated diversity in all its forms

AFP, PARIS

A court sketch made on Wednesday in Paris shows fashion designer John Galliano as he stands trial for anti-Semitic insults.

Photo: AFP

Fashion designer John Galliano claimed on Wednesday as he stood trial for anti-Semitic insults that it was an alcoholic, drug-addicted “shell” of himself who lashed out at patrons in a hip Paris bar.

Galliano did not deny the racist and anti-Jewish rants he is accused of, but insisted he had no recollection of the incidents that cost him his coveted job as creative director at Christian Dior fashion house.

“They are not views that I hold or believe in,” he said after the court was shown a video in which he declares he loves Hitler and tells shocked customers in La Perle bar in the Marais district that they were lucky not be be gassed.

“In the video, I see someone who needs help, who is very vulnerable. It is a shell of John Galliano, pushed to the edge,” said the British designer, who repeatedly denied he was anti-Semitic or racist.

He told the court he suffered from a triple addiction to alcohol, valium and sleeping pills and that he went into rehab in Arizona and Switzerland after being sacked from Dior and was now in “day care.”

The 50-year-old — considered one of the finest fashion designers of his generation — risks six months in jail and a fine of 22,500 euros (US$32,000) if convicted of subjecting La Perle customers to an obscene tirade on Feb. 24.

After a seven-hour hearing, the court said a verdict would be -delivered on Sept. 8.

Prosecutor Anne de Fontette asked the court on Wednesday to fine Galliano no less than 10,000 euros.

Asked by the presiding judge if he wished to apologize to the three plaintiffs, Galliano replied: “I apologize very much. I apologize for the sadness this whole affair has caused.”

“I embrace every people, every race, creed, religion, sexuality,” he said, adding that he celebrated diversity through his couture.

Galliano said that he himself had experienced bigotry first hand as an immigrant from Gibraltar growing up in London and that he suffered at school because of his homosexuality.

He said he began abusing drugs and alcohol in 2007 against a backdrop of financial crisis and the death of close friend Steven Robinson.

The designer looked relaxed as presiding judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud read the charges.

He was accompanied by his lawyer Aurelien Hamelle.

An interpreter whispered the proceedings into his left ear as Sauteraud quoted Galliano as having allegedly called a customer in La Perle bar a “fucking Asian bastard” and another a “fucking ugly Jewish bitch.”

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