Principle or Style: John Galliano dilemma

John Galliano S/S 2013

Flipping through the FT’s How To Spend It, I saw a beautiful dress by John Galliano and my heart kinda stuttered with sorrow.

John Galliano S/S 2013

I’ve always loved Galliano’s work and actually had tears in my eyes at a V&A exhibition a few years ago on his Haute Couture work for Dior – so exquisite were the dresses.  So, you may imagine my dismay, when the news broke of his anti-Semitic remarks, the ensuing court case and his acknowledgement of guilt in this respect.  Who wants to believe that someone they admire holds racist beliefs?  Sadly, there is no pre-determined tenet that exempts the most gifted of us from bigotry, prejudice and idiocy, anymore than applies to any one of us ordinary mortals.

John Galliano for Dior

Galliano has now served his time, paid his penance and is returning to work, albeit not at his former position with Dior.  and I find myself torn …

I still love his work – these examples of his S/S 2013 should be guide as to why – but do I feel comfortable even praising the work of someone that might be racist?  Logically, he has paid the price for his crime and should be free to get back to work.  He may be genuinely sorry and have done something that was out of character and one-off stupid.  I do believe in free speech even if that does mean that people are free to express views that I find objectionable.  Do I boycott everyone who disagrees with me or whose opinions I dislike?  No, I do not.  If I did, I would be as bigoted as any other bigot especially when, as with Galliano, I do not know them personally and am relying on media information which is generally expressing a specific POV.

But, I am uncomfortable.  I look at the John Galliano Spring/Summer 2013 Collection and my heart says, “oh, pretty …” but my mind is saying, “not happy, not happy…”

What do I do?  Might putting this in a blog even be promotion of a kind.  Should I care?  Principle or Style: owwie, brain hurting.  What do you think?

John Galliano S/S 2013


  1. Spashionista

    In my opinion he’s a pig – and a genius. We can’t really expect to solely patronize those we agree with, and in fact have no way of knowing if vendors we find inoffensive are being honest about their views of the world in order to keep their business’ successful. However, everyone has a proverbial “line in the sand”, so to speak, when it comes to their principles and I can completely understand your unwillingness to buy anything by JG. I wouldn’t, either, but others will.
    Damn, he’s good, though! What a pity 😦

    Spashionista (Alicia)

    1. Elle@plusblack

      Hi ALicia,

      I actually found myself arguing with D that we should forgive and rehabilitate when people repent or serve their sentence for wrong doing. I agree with you that we can never really know others’ views unless it’s personal and genius/talent comes in all guises. I can’t get my head around denying the latter as ‘punishment’ because a person hold views I find obnoxious … but I had to think about it and still feel somewhat unsettled as to the rights/wrongs of it.

      😀 Elle

  2. eleanorjanebirdy

    I think the white one looks like a tied up paper bag and doesn’t even suit the model. The black and flowery one is amazing.

    Also, these haute couture designers have very little to do with my life so I don’t put much time into thinking about them. I will never buy anything more than maybe a perfume or some cosmetics and I kind of think they’re all pretty crazy. Karl Largerfield has some outrageous quotes too, but I’d still buy a piece of Chanel makeup if I could afford to treat myself.

    1. Elle@plusblack

      Hi there,

      Thanks for replying & you made me laugh. Guess even Galliano can’t please us all, can he?

      Like most of us, I find high end designer pricing a bit steep but I love to look at the collections for inspiration and fun. I view them as art, I guess, and especially love to see the more extreme flights of imagination realised in fashion design. The closest I get to buying is via my favourite Chanel nail polishes … we’re not so different in that.

      All the best, Elle

  3. Iva

    I am more inclined to think he was at the influence of alcohol and the spirit of the moment. I can’t believe he is a racist at heart.

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