John Galliano, the designer fired by Christian Dior SA (CDI) over a video recording of his saying “I love Hitler,” told a Paris court he was addicted to alcohol, valium and sleeping pills and doesn’t remember anti-Semitic and racist attacks bar patrons claim he made.
When he was previously questioned by police, Galliano denied making the statements outright because, “I was still taking those pills. I was in complete denial.”
Galliano’s accusers at today’s trial claim he uttered the slurs at a cafe in Paris’s fashionable third arrondissement. Within days of that Feb. 24 incident, an undated video of a slurring Galliano praising Adolf Hitler, and saying “people like you would be dead,” was posted on the website of the U.K. tabloid The Sun. Galliano was fired by the Paris fashion house the next day, less than a week before he was to host the fashion house’s women’s ready-to-wear show.
Under sentencing rules for hate speech, Galliano faces a maximum 22,500-euro ($32,500) fine and six months in prison if found guilty. His lawyer, Aurelien Hamelle, has said similar cases “most often” result in fines rather than jail time.
Geraldine Bloch, who filed a complaint over the February incident, testified that Jewish “was one of the terms said the most” in Galliano’s slurs against her. “I don’t know if he was drunk. He was a bit bizarre. He sweated a lot.”
Galliano’s addictions can’t excuse his statements, Eric Zerbib, a lawyer for LICRA, an international organization opposed to racism and anti-Semitism, said before today’s testimony.
“It doesn’t explain and it doesn’t excuse anything,” said Zerbib. “In vino, veritas. In wine, the truth. Wine has a liberating effect which allows one to know an individual’s real personality, and given that the deeds were repeated several times, thus we know John Galliano’s personality.”
The designer said alcohol and drugs helped him deal with a heavy workload at the two labels for which he designed, Dior and Galliano.
“After every high there was a crash,” he told the three judges. “The drink would help me escape.”
Galliano said the 2007 death of his partner at Dior, Steven Robinson, made the situation worse.
“The workload increased enormously,” he said. “And right around this time I lost my beloved friend Steven Robinson. Steven protected me from everything so I could focus on design.
“When Steven died, with his parents I buried him, we went to the crematorium and I went back to do a fitting.”
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