Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Some Things Never Go Out of Fashion

When I was a child, my mother insisted that I wear oxfords and dress pants to school until I was about 10 or 11. Of course, I hated this. In the 35 years since I have worn denim on at least 90 per cent of the days. Blue jeans, t-shirts, athletic socks and running shoes are my typical daily wear with only slight variations allowed for seasonal considerations. I even managed to wrangle myself employment in a white collar profession but with employers who allow blue collar dress.

All of which goes to say that I have the fashion sense of a colour-blind four-year-old. Furthermore, I daresay I care less about how I dress than that same four-year-old.

Which is why I was so surprised to learn today that fashion designer Johnny Galliano was under so much pressure from his job that he found it necessary to take drugs and alcohol in such quantity that he all of a sudden, presto, change-o, turned into an anti-Semite, like some sort of warped national socialist version of Cinderella. You must take your job pretty seriously when dressing up runway models becomes a reason to start ranting as if you've been possessed by Joseph Goebbels.

According to AP, during his trial for "public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity" Galliano doesn't remember any such incidents - although he's standing trial for two such occurrences and at least one other was reported - due to his drug and alcohol addiction. The drugs and alcohol were necessary because of the difficulties experienced by designers in a recession-wracked world. Over-priced and ugly clothing, it seems, just doesn't sell as well when people are defaulting on their mortgages.

Personally, I'm unconvinced that such a small, petty creature should even be on trial. His reputation lies in shreds, like the leftovers from one of his cutting room sessions. His employer, Christian Dior, turfed him immediately, and rightly so. Galliano is entitled to his stupidity but no one is obligated to keep paying him if he conducts himself in an unprofessional manner. It could really have been left at that.

The kicker is, of course, that Galliano is overtly homosexual. The Nazis, their personal indiscretions aside, would not have been impressed. The only fashion he would have been wearing under a Nazi regime would have included a pink triangle.

I will never buy the inevitable mea culpas that flow from the likes of Galliano and Mel Gibson. In wine, truth and all of that. But, really, ho-hum...if we want to get serious about anti-Semitism in this world, Galliano is hardly the starting point. Anti-Semitism isn't haute couture; in fact, as far as irrational hatreds go, it's ubiquitous - like t-shirts and blue jeans. For the garden variety anti-Semite slug, the best approach is a liberal sprinkling of ridicule and a good smack in the pocketbook; they are generally incurable but easily dealt with.


Catherine said...

I love how whenever a celebrity or public figure gets busted on an anti-Semitic or racist rant, their typical apology is basically, "Yeah, I said that shit, but I swear I don't hate [Jews/blacks/whatever]. I love everybody! Really I do! I'm the most tolerant person in the world! I even have some [Jewish/black/whatever] friends!"

Galliano absolutely deserved to be fired, and he also deserves to be forgotten. Sad, because he is a talented designer. Manolo the Shoeblogger had some interesting posts about this after the incident in question:

southfield_2001 said...

I will check those posts out. Thanks, cat.