John Galliano and the Fashion Fascists

Galliano's outburst was not about shocking it was about his place in the fashion 'master-race' and its utter disdain for the Everywoman.

There are bar-room bigots and then there is John Galliano.

The British designer has been given a suspended fine of €6,000 (£5,200) by a Paris court for racist and anti-Semitic rants at people in a Paris bar. The former couturier was found guilty of "public insults" based on origin, religion, race or ethnicity after two notorious incidents in February 2011 and last year.

Whether Galliano - who told his trial he couldn't remember the incident because of a "triple addiction" to alcohol, sleeping tablets and Valium - will ever be able to redeem himself at the top of the fashion world is the next question. But the fashionistas could not wait to forgive Kate Moss's coke-snorting ignominy, and before his rancid rambling Galliano was admired as a genius. After the requisite confessional treatment for his addictions I would wager a comeback is planned.

When the designer was sacked by Dior the Jewish writer Linda Grant argued that Galliano had a reputation for busting taboos and his outbursts were a symptom of the transgressive world he had created.

If you are breaker of taboos, then anti-Semitism is only another taboo, no different from any other. It's the saying of the unsayable. It has become the last frontier for those demanding freedom of speech, for whom everything, even the Holocaust, is fair game. Is Galliano an actual anti-Semite who hates Jews? Who knows what passes through his mind, but by invoking the name of Hitler and gloating about the gas chambers, he is only doing what others have always paid him to do: shock.

I believe this lets him off the hook. Rather, the Galliano incident came from an even darker place, revealing a grotesque fashion fascism that lurks beneath haute couture's veneer of a exclusively defined beauty and style. Indeed, were not Hitler's Nuremberg rallies, in part, a gigantic, camp catwalk? Did not CoCo Chanel quickly shack-up with a handsome German officer, and use the anti-Semitic laws to try and bilk her Jewish business partners, after the Nazis rolled into Paris?

'Gauletier' Galliano's gilded world accepts only the very thinnest, the very youngest and the very richest. As a result, millions are tormented by the inescapable, 24/7 images of these unattainable 'über-women' and are condemned to decades of self-loathing and eating disorders.

Tellingly when Galliano unleashed his rant against Geraldine Block, 35, in the La Perle bar in Paris's Marais district he called her a "fucking ugly Jewish bitch". Ms Bloch said his anti-Semitic diatribe was mixed with horrible abuse about her clothes, hair, thighs, eyebrows and makeup. Another woman said he made similar insults to her in the same bar in October.

Galliano's outburst was not about shocking it was about his place in the fashion 'master-race' and its utter disdain for the Everywoman.


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