If you haven’t been following the coverage of John Galliano‘s public insult trial in Paris, you’ve been missing out. Over the course of the day, Galliano, his accusers and their various lawyers have been painting perhaps the clearest picture of what fueled Galliano’s racist outburst and what led him to it: Misguided attempts to escape the pressure of his work at Dior and the sadness and depression that came as a result of the death of his partner Stephen Robinson led him to combine alcohol with Valium and sleeping pills. Galliano told the court that it was the “lethal” combination of these substances, not racism, that caused his downfall.
Galliano’s lawyer Aurelien Hamelle ushered the embattled designer into a stuffy courtroom at the Palais de Justice in Paris after the presiding judge read out the list of insults Galliano was accused of using on the night of February 24. Galliano, dressed very simply in a black blazer and shirt, said he didn’t remember saying any of the things on the list, and told the court, “I have an addiction. I am a recovering alcoholic, a recovering addict.”
The designer faced the judge squarely and told her he started drinking heavily in 2007, when the world economy began to collapse in on itself. The pressure to perform was greater than ever, and when Galliano succeeded, he celebrated. “After every creative high, I would crash, and alcohol helped me escape,” he said.
His accusers, Geraldine Bloch and Philip Virgiti testified, too, saying that Galliano insulted everything about them when they sat next to him on the terrace at La Perle — Bloch told the judge that Galliano “touched my hair and said it was shit.” Virgiti admitted that they thought he was a homeless man, and that they were told to leave because the owner was friends with him. (The owner denied this claim, saying that Galliano came to La Perle at most twice a year.)
While both of the accusers reiterated that he called Bloch a string of anti-Semitic and other “gratuitous insults,” but at least one eyewitness told the court she didn’t hear Galliano say anything anti-Semitic (although he definitely called her a “bitch”). The same witness did, however, hear Galliano tell Virgiti “don’t touch me you and your fucking Asian family.”
Yet another witness revealed that the two not only stuck around to talk to the police, they ordered another round of drinks. “Perhaps they wanted it to continue?” the witness asked. But the actual harassment didn’t seem to be as problematic for them as the media backlash that came after they complained to the police. Virgiti told the court people had been attacking him online, and Bloch has been hounded by reporters and followed around when she leaves her home.
After a few more eye witnesses told the court various versions of what happened that night (and on the night of October 8, when the now-famous “I love Hitler” video was recorded), Galliano gave his apology, saying that he fought against “prejudice, intolerance and discrimination” his entire life, as he was subjected to it for being gay at an early age. He demonstrated his love for all people, he said, when he invited Shaolin monks (yes, Shaolin monks) to perform at one of his shows in 2003, and when he lived with a Masai tribe in Africa.
“These are not the sentiments of John Galliano,” he said. “I do not have these views and I have never held them.”
Galliano said he has not worked since leaving Dior, choosing instead to focus on his recovery. While he waits for his sentence (which could be a $32,500 fine and seven months in prison), he’s participating in a day program for recovering alcoholics and addicts.
Galliano hearing: live report [AFP on Yahoo! News]
John Galliano trial: live [The Telegraph]
“Too Much Pressure,” Galliano Tells Court [WWD]
At Hate Crime Trial, Galliano Employs Little-Known Shaolin Monks Defense [Jezebel]
John Galliano Speaks — His Trial Testimony [Fashionologie]