Thursday, 6 November 2014

Margiela or Morals?

We have all said things we shouldn’t have whilst under the influence, but September 2011 saw a Paris court shockingly rule John Galliano guilty of making anti-Semitic and racist remarks in a Paris cafĂ©, whilst inebriated.

Upon this very public revelation, he was swiftly fired from his post as Creative Director at Christian Dior, after 15 years, with them “unequivocally” condemning his actions. The actress Natalie Portman, who is the face of Miss Dior and “proud to be Jewish”, released a statement at the time distancing herself completely from Galliano. Other reactions from within the fashion world were varied: from sympathy for his inability to cope with the fast-pace of the luxury business, to concerns for his mental health and substance abuse, to some just being angered, such as Karl Lagerfeld telling Womenswear Daily that he was downright “furious with him”.

Galliano has been making a gradual return to fashion since the incident, with a temporary residency at Oscar de la Renta in 2013 and famously designing Kate Moss’ wedding dress in 2011, although he came nowhere near his previous dominance. Until now.


Three years on and the Parisian fashion house Maison Martin Margiela have this week appointed Galliano as their new Creative Director. The general reaction within the fashion world has been overwhelmingly positive. However, some fashion bods have been left confused by this latest development, with New York Times fashion critic Alexandra Jacobs humorously tweeting “what’s next, Paula Deen takes over Le Cirque”.

“There is no denying the incredible creative talent of John Galliano, but is business being put before morality?”

Galliano is known for his dramatic and often completely ‘out-there’ creations, whereas the usual designs of Margiela are somewhat more subtle and avant-garde. It could seem that they are using the controversial designer to bring shock-value and greater press coverage to the brand’s rumoured progression into a new era, but a completely different design style may just be a part of their reinvention.

Although Galliano has seemingly gone to great efforts to atone for his disgraceful comments, some may not agree that a person who caused such offence, and may still hold views which go against humanity, in this way should be given a chance to regain their previous influence and prestige, and on such a global platform. Alternatively, some people accredited his outburst to substance abuse, which he has sought treatment for, and it could be a bad move to reinstate Galliano into a similarly high-stress situation, for fear of a relapse.

There is no denying the incredible creative talent of John Galliano, but is business being put before morality?

Tessa Jones for The Courier, 20th October 2014

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