John Galliano took a steep fall after a leaked video of his drunken anti-Semitic remarks extinguished his star turn as Dior’s head designer in 2011, and he’s spent the last two years climbing back up. It might not sound like a long enough time for him to address his alcoholism, right his wrongs, and convince everyone he is sorry, but the bad boy of fashion has a loyal band of backers willing to underwrite his redemption. If recent events are any indication, they are helping him make steady advances toward the top once again.
It all started with an Oscar. On Jan. 18, WWD reported that Galliano accepted Oscar de la Renta’s invitation to work in his New York design studio for three weeks, offering input as de la Renta prepares his collection for New York Fashion Week next month, among other things. WWD called the offer a “stunning development,” and noted de la Renta’s commitment to helping Galliano readjust to the fashion world after his absence.
“John and I have known each other for many years and I am a great admirer of his talent,” de la Renta told WWD. “He has worked long and hard on his recovery and I am happy to give him the opportunity to reimburse himself in the world of fashion and reacclimate in an environment where he has been so creative.”
Three days after the news started a swirl of renaissance rumors, Galliano was spotted lunching with Grace Coddington, Vogue‘s creative director. The connection to his de la Renta residency is apparent—Coddington’s boss Anna Wintour reportedly brokered the invitation.
Now, the pitch is feverish. As publications ruminate on how the disgraced British designer will fully stage his comeback, Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce of Dolce & Gabbana released a statement to Swide, their lifestyle magazine, stating, “We wish John the best of luck with his return to fashion. We’ve always been admirers of his flamboyant talent. He has been missed from the fashion scene these two years and we can’t wait to see the collection with Oscar de la Renta.”
The support bolsters his inevitable return, despite an initially ruinous backlash. After he was videotaped telling Jewish women in Paris‘s Marais district that he “loves Hitler” and making charged remarks about the Holocaust, Dior’s chief executive Sidney Toledano confirmed that Galliano had made the remarks even though the designer denied the allegations; Galliano was found guilty that September of giving public insults on account of race and was fined €6,000 (US$8,400). Israeli-born Dior spokeswoman Natalie Portman, whose great-grandparents died in the Holocaust, denounced Galliano and released a statement saying: “I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano’s comments that surfaced today…I hope at the very least, these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful.”
Throughout the maelstrom, he found champions in Kate Moss, for whom he designed a dress for her July 2011 wedding, and designer Patricia Field. With friends like those, who needs enemies? Not Galliano. He is absolved by the Anti-Defamation League and cautiously eyed by the Jewish community, but he is sorry.
“I am an alcoholic,” Galliano stated. “I have been in recovery for the past two years. Several years prior to my sobriety, I descended into the madness of the disease. I said and did things which hurt others, especially members of the Jewish community. I have expressed my sorrow privately and publicly for the pain which I caused, and I continue to do so. I remain committed to making amends to those I have hurt.”