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John Galliano – Seeking Help (Naturellement)

March 4, 2011

I am the least fashionable person I know. I wear a $30 Swatch. I have never owned a designer suit. In fact I hate suits. I have no idea why women pay thousands of dollars for a designer dress when they can get something very similar for a tenth of the price from Marks and Spencer.

I have no interest in shoes, either. Jimmy Choo might just as well be a kung fu star or celebrity chef as far as I’m concerned. And anyway, a woman’s feet are not the part of her anatomy that first draws my attention.  

Designers themselves live in a world no less precious than that of the gross-out rock stars of the Seventies. Designers have groupies, are followed around by wannabes, hangers on, addled journalists who greedily drink their every vacuous word.

I draw a parallel with the music business of the Seventies because I was part of that world for a while, so I have some actual experience to draw upon. I came across more than one of the rock casualties, and I can tell a few tales about the self-referencing lunacy of those years.

Like the music business, fashion has its share of troubled souls. The difference between the Seventies and 2011 is that the burnt-out rock stars didn’t have MTV and a host of other celebrity shows in attendance to document their slow decline for the watching millions. There were a few music papers that would report in gleeful fashion the antics of Ozzy Osborne, Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix and all the lesser loonies of the era.

When rock stars died young, it was usually a pathetic end. Too many pills, choked on vomit, heroin overdose, cirrhosis of the liver. Long suicide notes.

Today’s generation of self-destructing celebrities tend to melt down in public on their way to oblivion. Everyone has a smartphone handy to capture the irresistible indiscretion. Paparazzi lurk, waiting to capture the descent to oblivion of alcoholic movie stars and anorexic models.

Which leads me to John Galliano. A British designer rated as talented by the harridans of the fashion press spits out an anti-Semitic tirade in Paris. Next thing, he’s all over YouTube. He reveals himself as a fan of Adolf Hitler, and is fired by Dior, his employer.

What interests me about this sordid little story is that Mr Galliano announces that he’s “getting help”. For what? Being a Nazi sympathiser? Is there a clinic for recovering fascists? Or is he planting his stake in the ground for a pre-emptive defence in his forthcoming trial for race hatred? No doubt he will have his mitigating circumstances lined up for the trial. Whether it was drugs, alcohol, abuse as a child or some form of mental disorder, I know not. But you can be sure that his problems will be paraded in colours as bright as his clothes before judge and jury. And no doubt he will have started his treatment well before he arrives in court.

For this is what celebrities do. There’s treatment for everything – help at hand for every affliction, provided you can afford the $1000 per day for some clinic in Palo Alto. And don’t we love it when the celeb emerges from rehab and sins again? Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Pete Doherty – the list goes on. Sin, repentance and sin again….

I have nothing against the fashion industry. We need colour, flair and variety in the way we dress, just as bees need flowers to attract them to pollen. It would be sad if the world dressed uniformly in black, white or brown.

But I will be listening to Bob Dylan and watching Coppola movies long after Galliano’s creations hit the recycle bins. Fashion’s for a season. Music and cinema are for life.

As for Mr Galliano himself, if his treatment fails there is an obvious home for him. I’m sure he would receive a warm welcome from Hugo Boss, whose founder’s creations adorned Hitler’s SS and a number of Nazi luminaries.

But that’s a cheap shot, and it’s cruel to kick a man when he’s down, so I wish him well in his recovery from whatever ails him. Let’s just hope he doesn’t make an ideological about-turn, and clads all his models in Mao suits next year.

From → Art, Social

  1. I love Fashion and worship fashion designers ( well most of them). I cannot imagine a world devoid of their craziness.
    Having said that, I also maintain that all this publicity stunt to be politically correct by Dior is stupid. They might take John G back or he might start something of his own ( under Dior).It happens all the time. I do not think that going to a rehab can help you remedy your fatal flaws but all it can do is to put check points ( not always successful) which might act as a deterrent if these celebrities feel like showing their true self again.

    • Thanks for the comment Anita. As you will have divined, I’m rather skeptical about therapy! Excessive adoration corrodes the soul, does it not?

  2. Depends on the person really.. excessive adoration and immaturity corrodes the soul

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