Galliano Heads to Court After Drug Treatment

By Kirwan Gray 06/22/11

Designer will claim drug and alcohol problems caused his racist remarks.

"Obsessive indulgence is his thing."
Photo via sostyles

Disgraced designer John Galliano goes to court today in Paris, and is expected to say that his alcohol and drug addictions were behind his racist tirade in a Paris bar back in February. As Agence France-Presse recapped the saga: “The British designer was arrested on February 24 in a drunken state after a couple in a cafe in Paris' fashionable and historically Jewish Marais district alleged he had subjected them to a stream of anti-Semitic abuse. Another woman then came forward to say she suffered a similar attack in October last year and then a video surfaced of Galliano insulting someone else in the same bar and declaring ‘I love Hitler.’"

After losing his job as Christian Dior’s creative director, the 50-year-old then went to rehab for alcoholism in Arizona. Galliano suffered the additional indignity of being heckled and called a racist by paparazzi after he left rehab and walked through Los Angeles International Airport on his way Paris. Galliano insists that his multiple addictions to Valium, alcohol, and sleeping pills rendered him “ill,” and that he was also taking antidepressants “like candy,” according to the Montreal Gazette. (Is there anybody out there who is only an anti-Semite or a racist when they are drunk or drugged? We’re just asking.)

There is at least some precedent for his expected diminished capacity plea: The celebrated Deaver Defense. In 1987, Ronald Reagan’s former Deputy Chief of Staff, Michael Deaver, pleaded not guilty to perjury charges, on the grounds that at the time he spoke, he was too drunk to know whether he was telling the truth or not. And it worked: For lying to Congress and a Federal grand jury about his behind-the-scenes lobbying activities, Deaver received a suspended prison sentence, 1,500 hours of community service, and a fine.

If the court finds him guilty of hate crimes, Galliano could be sentenced to six months in prison and fined $30,000. Anti-Semitic speech is a serious crime in France, for obvious historical reasons. "He's treating his addiction to alcohol and medication. He will think about his professional future" after the trial, said his lawyer, who added that Galliano himself "does not remember because he was in an altered state. What he knows is that his alleged insults do not reflect what he thinks. He's not anti-Semitic or racist."

The New Yorker’s Michael Specter wrote of Galliano: "He was a slave to addiction; those addictions rotated through the years: drugs, sex, alcohol, exercise, and finally, and most damagingly, his own public image.” And in a pattern depressingly familiar among the rich and famous, “Galliano’s drug abuse was seen by many of the most prominent people in fashion as an adorable foible, like wearing a monocle or writing with a fountain pen. 'Oh, that’s just John,' one of France’s better known fashion people once told me. 'Obsessive indulgence is his thing.'”

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