I didn't see this one coming: after over a decade at the helm John Galliano's reign as the Dauphin at Dior is over and done.
Paris - March 1, 2011
Today, in light of the deeply offensive statements and conduct by John Galliano in a video made public yesterday, Christian Dior has commenced termination proceedings against him. Sidney Toledano, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Christian Dior Couture, said: "I unequivocally condemn the statements made by John Galliano which are in total contradiction to the longstanding core values of Christian Dior". From the Huffington Post (via Racked)
While I am a long-time Galliano admirer, can't imagine a fashion industry without John Galliano, and feel compassion for the man, I ruefully agree that Dior chief Sidney Toledano had no choice but to fire him. It's so sad and a tragic way to go, but the bottom line is John totally brought it upon himself, albeit in the unconscious fug of intoxication in a bar in the Marais where he thought no-one knew him or cared what he was doing and saying. In another age maybe he might have been able to obfuscate events; in 2011 there's nowhere to hide from smartphone evidence (even if it wasn't from the night in question) streamed online by one of the worlds biggest media conglomerates. The hard truth leaves no room for public compassion - anti-Semitism is totally unaccepatble.
The ending at Dior also potentially sees his own eponymous line close its doors to him. It is a disastrous outcome, a gravity-defying fall from grace that is surely unprecedented in modern times.
It seems unfair to write all this about such an extraordinary talent. We all have our bad times - and to get through then in private and with dignity should be our right. But though it is unfair and unjust John Galliano doesn't have that option. He has been forced to face the music, but it could be a blessing in disguise. The extreme workload of the modern designer takes its toll on the most creative juices, and maybe a change is the best thing for Galliano and Dior in the long run.
But this is all only with hindsight. Until last Thursday I thought the business of Christian Dior was marching along buoyantly with Galliano at the creative helm. His creative work seemed perfectly upstanding; the Spring/Summer 2011 collection was good. The multi-layered and coloured espadrille ribbon platform sandals from the collection have been massively influential.
Still. Transgression as a modus operandi succeeds on a creative level - but only if one doesn't let it contaminate the personal. Something Linda Grant writes on in todays Guardian online.
John Galliano is an enormous figure in fashion. Enormous. We in the fashion industry and beyond are in shock at the severity of the situation and will massively miss his design magic and - on a totally superficial level - his famous catwalk exit at the end of each show. It seems silly to say but I feel lucky that I saw his very last show for Christian Dior in January. I hope he goes away somewhere to pull himself together with good friends close by and recover from this. Someday he will be forgiven. Everyone deserves forgiveness and a second chance.
So who should Christian Dior be looking at? My first thoughts are the two Peters. Peter Copping, who heads up Nina Ricci, and Peter Dundas who heads up Emilio Pucci. Pucci is LVMH owned. Ricci is owned by the Puig group. In the same way that Bernard Arnault brought in Galliano to head up Dior from his position at Givenchy, it would be as simple for him to move Dundas into Dior. Or to hire Copping from Puig.
Peter Copping was key to the success of Marc Jacobs first years at Louis Vuitton, and his departure was keenly felt. In the last two years while Copping has been at Nina Ricci, he has brought a sweetness, elegance and purity to the house which is selling really well and bringing in legions of new young and not-so-young fans.
Copping, spookily, bears an almost striking resemblance to the real Christian Dior.
The real Christian Dior in 1953
Peter Copping of Nina Ricci
Peter Dundas of Emilio Pucci
Will update more later!