Professor Galliano: Is the Controversial Fashion Designer an Appropriate Mentor for Students?

Parsons The New School for Design has announced a new four-day master course to be taught by John Galliano called “Show Me Emotion”

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Parsons The New School for Design has announced a new four-day master course to be taught by John Galliano called “Show Me Emotion,” which is a questionable course title for a designer who fell from grace for showing, well, too much emotion. The class will allow 20 selected students to “have the opportunity to engage in a frank conversation with Mr. Galliano about the challenges and complications of leading a design house in the 21st century,” the school said in a statement.

A “frank conversation” will likely include the ups of Galliano’s career as head designer at Givenchy and Dior, and also undoubtedly the downs, including his 2011 drunken anti-Semitic tirade, which earned him wide condemnation and his dismissal from the Dior brand.

The racist rant is two years old now, but no one in the fashion industry has forgotten it. Many have likely not forgiven its offense, and may find his hiring by Parsons completely inappropriate. But 2013 has been a year of atonement for the disgraced designer, and as Parsons said, “Galliano has demonstrated a serious intent to make amends for his past actions.” That’s debatable. In January, he helped Oscar de la Renta as the designer prepared for New York Fashion Week; Galliano has also earned continued support from the Anti-Defamation League. The designer seemed to be learning from his mistakes—that is, until the end of Fashion Week, when he wore a hasidic-chic outfit that drew outrage from several Jewish New Yorkers.

But perhaps its Galliano’s roller coaster of a comeback that actually makes him a perfect candidate for professorship: He hasn’t figured out his next step in the design world, and neither have these students. Candid advice from a man with a stained reputation, who was on top, fell hard, but is learning to climb back, may be the right kind of encouragement and relatable advice students need before entering the real world of fashion.


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