John Galliano, ex-Dior designer: Drug addictions blamed for slurs


John Galliano, center, and lawyer Stephane Zerbib, left, arrive for a hearing at a police station in Paris in February. The man at right is unidentified. (GONZALO FUENTES/REUTERS)

Now the British designer is in the City of Lights to face trial on charges of hurling anti-Semitic insults at cafe patrons.

Galliano, who will be in court Wednesday, is accused of making “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity.” If convicted, he could spend six months in jail. The one-day trial stems from two incidents in October and February.

Geraldine Bloch, a museum curator, said that Galliano hurled racist insults at her and her boyfriend, Philippe Virgiti, at a Paris cafe in February. Another woman said Galliano insulted her, as well, last October.

But it was a video published by the U.K. newspaper the Sun that speeded the designer’s downfall. The cellphone video shows Galliano saying, “I love Hitler,” and telling a woman that she would have been killed by the Nazis. (Watch the video, which contains language that may be offensive to some viewers, here.)

After the video’s release, Galliano lost the support of his employer Dior, who fired him after after 14 years, and one of his most famous patrons, actress Natalie Portman.

“I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video,” the actress said in a statement. “In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.”

Galliano apologized for his remarks, saying he was heading to rehab and issuing a statement: “Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologize for my behavior in causing any offense.”

Galliano lawyer Aurelien Hamelle said that the designer’s addiction to drugs and alcohol is to blame for the rant. “Some things may have come out of his mouth that didn’t come from his brain,” Hamelle told the New York Times.

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