Parsons New School has dropped John Galliano from its schedule where he was slated to teach a Masterclass titled “Show Me Emotion”. Their reason being his refusal to participate in a “frank” discussion on the path of his career. The decision was no doubt also compelled by the mounting pressure from the petition launched by students against the designer being allowed to teach in the school. We saw this coming. I found his appointment by New School rather strange and am not surprised it has been met with this reaction. One does not have to be a Jew to be offended by the ugly remarks made in that video and his intoxication should not excuse such vile behaviour. Whilst some have expressed disappointment at the decision taken by New School, it is not at all surprising because here’s the thing; Fashion should not just be about talent, it should encourage ethics and morals. Too many times we have seen misdemeanour in fashion and the entertainment industry at large, be tolerated or chucked up to talent; how many times did Naomi Campbell throw a phone before she was eventually thrown in the slammer. Just look at the antics of Lindsay Lohan and her cohorts. John Galliano was a victim of his own self destruction and whatever the fall out from that destruction is his own doing as well. As the Scots would say, he made a roaster of himself.
Redemption. I am a big believer in redemption and everyone should get a shot at it because we are not all perfect. Galliano, genius as he is, is proof that even the most creative minds are flawed. However, redemption should not be in a classroom where members of the community he insulted will reside or others who are still offended by his remarks for that matter. This was not a clearly thought out situation. These students pay to attend the school and ultimately have a say on what they want from their education and where it should take them. If New School were free of charge this would’ve been a different matter entirely but it is not.
Having watched the video of Galliano’s drunken rants, something strikes a chord, the fragile mind of a flawed talent, stripped bare, alone and drunk. A stark difference from the man we are used to seeing on the runway, there was something melancholic about it. And then he opened his mouth and uttered horrifying words that cut deep. I was embarrassed for and angry, at him. Galliano’s repulsive behaviour shows the ugly side of fashion; egos and the grand delusions of their god mentality. It is a fashion problem. Excess is the reward for success, with no demand too big or ridiculous, all in the name of nurturing talent, but such indulgence is bound to lead to a calamitous fall. Fashion is demanding and at its meanest, will drive you to the brink of madness sometimes you are saved and other times you lose but talent is no excuse for ignorance or such ugly behaviour.
Does Galliano have some knowledge to impart on the students who would’ve taken that class? Absolutely. Even without being in a classroom his is a cautionary tale in any work of life. As I’ve said before, the creative mind is a fragile thing and nothing makes it more obvious when put up against profit margins and they are expected to meet such targets season after season. When the going is good, they are conferred a demigod status of the sorts, which makes their fall from grace that much harder to swallow. Stripping a designer of his ability to design is possibly the most cruel punishment. On the flip side, expecting students to just shut up and take it because its John Galliano teaching them is just as ludicrous.
Nobody is perfect. Galliano should be allowed to redeem himself because we cannot continue to pit his offences against him, he has to be given a chance to be judged on his skill once again otherwise it will be a loss of great significance to the fashion industry but the stage for his redemption was set in the wrong arena. It is a tough call but that was asking for too much. There has to be other ways for him to do this.
Personally, I would like to see him at YSL and be short of Hedi Slimane…