Galliano’s gone, but it seems the show will go on.
Which leaves a question that’s been posed many times: how do you praise the professional, without being sullied by the personal?
Roman Polanski, R. Kelly, Woody Allen. And John Galliano.
The first three may have more in common when it comes to the allegations that follow their personal lives, but all four pose similar problems for would be fans. How do you support Polanski’s work on film without personally supporting a man who plead guilty to drugging and raping a 13-year-old? Can you enjoy R. Kelly’s music without contributing to the financial standing of a man who allegedly has sex with young teens? Is there a conflict with someone who enjoys Woody Allen’s work but finds his affair with, and later marriage to, his adopted daughter a bit… gross?
Natalie Portman’s decision to wear Rodarte for the Oscars, and later statement condemning Galliano’s words on the now infamous video, makes her position on the matter clear. She’s a face of Dior’s perfume, but wants nothing to do with Galliano, even if it’s only through fabric.
It’s unlikely the wider fashion industry will follow suit though, and while that may have been acceptable in a time where Twitter and blogs didn’t exist, it’s sure to create divisions in a time when they do.
We’ll take a bet that Galliano’s as yet to be seen Dior collection will be beautiful. We’re not sure of the colors or materials or silhouettes just yet, but going on a professional history, his skill as a designer has rarely faltered. Collection after collection, you can count on Galliano to wow. Though Dior was never the most profitable brand in the LVMH stable, sales did amount to approximately $1.14 billion which is no small thing. While Dior has been quick to distance themselves from the designer personally, if the show goes on, then so to will the normal industry cycle. The collection will be shown to editors and buyers, and lated promoted in advertisements and editorials.
Galliano may not profit from future collections, but even though Dior is proceeding with dismissal measures (which can take weeks in France, depending on the nature of Galliano’s contract), he will likely have to be paid for the collection which has already been created – if he hasn’t been paid already. The normal fashion cycle means that in some way, support of the current collection will support Galliano.
So where does that leave the line of accepting demonstrated skill without supporting abhorrent social behavior? Drunk or not, aware of being filmed or not, alcohol does not make someone a Hitler fan or racist. It may lower inhibitions and allow those things to be spoken more freely than they otherwise would, but with all the risks that alcohol carries – liver damage, impaired motor skills, alcohol poisoning, vomiting – racism and bigotry are two that have never been listed as a side effect of drinking too much.
None of the circumstances mitigate Galliano’s behavior, but it if pop culture history shows anything, it’s that eventually artistry seems to outweigh the abhorrent. Many of the most iconic French fashion houses had founders who created garments for wives of Nazi officers’ wives and supported extremely antisemitic behavior in some way. For good or bad, even in an age where social outrage can spark a revolution that takes down a president, it’s still not enough to take down artists (completely, anyhow). So when the glowing show reviews praising the genius of a disturbed mind come in, and the ads and editorials begin to appear in the September issues of popular fashion magazines, and a Dior gown pops up at an event, don’t be surprised. No one will hold it against you that you don’t hold it against them.