Christian Dior has sacked its star designer John Galliano for “odious behaviour” after he was accused of hurling antisemitic and racist insults in a drunken rant.
The prestigious haute couture house announced it had launched action to part company with the flamboyant Briton who has been its creative director for 15 years and who is now under police investigation.
Dior said it had a policy of “zero tolerance” towards antisemitism. It suspended Galliano last week after he was arrested when a couple complained he insulted them during an altercation in a trendy Paris bar.
Galliano (50) vehemently denies making antisemitic remarks and detectives have admitted they have no independent witnesses to the alleged verbal attacks.
At first Dior said it would await the outcome of the investigation. But after a video of Galliano declaring “I love Hitler” and telling two women their parents “would have been gassed” was unearthed by the Sun newspaper, the fashion house tried to distance itself from him as quickly as possible.
“Because of the particularly odious character of the behaviour and comments made by John Galliano in a video made public on Monday, the Dior house decided to suspend him immediately and has engaged in a process to dismiss him,” Dior said in a statement.
The loss of its creative director could not have come at a worse time for Dior. The designer was due to unveil his autumn/winter 2011 collection on Friday. Dior has said the show of Galliano’s designs will go on, without Galliano.
Sidney Toledano, Dior’s chief executive, said: “I condemn with the greatest firmness the comments made by John Galliano, in total contradiction with the essential values that have always been defended by the Christian Dior fashion house.”
The backlash had already spread across the Atlantic where the Oscar-winning actor Natalie Portman — the face of Miss Dior Cherie perfume — said she was “deeply shocked and disgusted” and wanted nothing to do with Galliano.
Portman (29) who on Sunday was named best actress for her performance in Black Swan, said: “As an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr Galliano in any way.”
The business tycoon Alan Sugar also criticised the designer. “I hope French courts make an example of him for alleged racist remarks. These high-profile people think they are untouchable,” he wrote on Twitter.
But the Italian designer Giorgio Armani said he felt “sorry for” his colleague.
Galliano, who has made dresses for Princess Diana and France’s first lady, Carla Bruni, and is designing the supermodel Kate Moss’s wedding dress, spent more than five hours at a police station in central Paris on Monday as investigators sought to establish what had happened in two incidents where he is accused of making offensive remarks.
Galliano was arrested on Thursday in the chic Marais district after he allegedly insulted a Jewish woman and her Asian boyfriend in La Perle bar. Galliano denied their accusations, reportedly telling police “I’m no racist.”
His lawyer, Stéphane Zerbib, said the designer was counter-suing the couple for defamation. Two days later, a second woman came forward claiming Galliano had similarly insulted her in the same bar in October.
The final straw for Dior appears to have been video footage, reportedly shot in La Perle in December, showing Galliano telling two women whom he thought were Jewish: “I love Hitler. People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be fucking gassed.”
Police have not charged Galliano and a source said: “We are going to evaluate the credibility of the accusations and Mr Galliano’s denials before deciding what action to take.” – guardian.co.uk