The highlight of the #MargielaMonday analysis was the discussion on SHOWstudio presented by Lou Stoppard with celebrated fashion photographer Nick Knight, and a host of other guests. All the reviews of Galliano’s Artisanal collection have either been full of praise for the return of his creativity or criticism for his use of repetition and lack of true innovation. Although, one recurring undertone in each piece has been that John has been forgiven for the most part, but his actions not forgotten. Essentially, John is still being informally punished for the anti-Semitic remarks he made in a Parisian café almost 4 years ago.
The remarks that were made that day were disgusting, cannot and should not have been tolerated. For people to argue “but if the same thing were said about another race…” to justify their defence of Mr Galliano, is not a valid argument. You cannot dictate when someone should feel hurt or offended, so what we choose to tolerate or not to tolerate cannot be imposed upon us. However it is unfair for people to allow this ugly anti-Semitic stigma to remain part and parcel of John’s career, particularly if we are to consider the other racist things industry veterans have done time and time again.
The utterly-talented Steven Klein is still being booked even after the hideous use of blackface he willingly photographed for Vogue Paris. Carine Roitfeld got a promotion to a better position at Harper’s Bazaar, her own magazine, a documentary and a Givenchy campaign after styling said-shoot. Karl Lagerfeld is still one of the most celebrated individuals in fashion despite his degrading comments about women and thinking it was a good idea to put Claudia Schiffer in yellow face, instead of just using an Asian model. The solution to such actions is to write an apology letter or rather choose not to, and discrimination of any kind is acceptable in the fashion industry. Fast forward to 2015 and we are reminded of fashion’s discriminatory tag by the fact that Jourdan Dunn is the first black model to grace the cover of British Vogue in 8 years. Gross lapses in better judgement, or just plain ignorance, these incidents are forgotten, largely because of the talent these creatives possess. However, the equally-talented John Galliano is obviously the exception and his crucifixion is still ongoing almost 4 years after the incident, reminding us all just about how hypocritical fashion can be.
By branding John Galliano as a racist, you would technically have to label those mentioned above, Vogue, Proenza Schouler, Miroslava Duma, Anna Dello Russo and Número Magazine as such; just to name a few. To actually call these people and fashion houses racist is simply moronic, it can be argued however that they’re racist by implication- there’s a difference. How can someone who made despicable comments whilst under the heavy influence of drugs and alcohol and therefore not in his right mind, be called a racist? Steven Klein was sober when he photographed Lara Stone in blackface and that stamp is rarely attached to his name. The creative director and photographer of this exploitative Espresso shoot with Alek Wek was completely lucid. Moreover, Número justified the use of blackface in their African Queen editorial as an “artistic statement”. So why did we decide to not only tolerate all of these things, but conveniently forget about them too?
Like Nick Knight said during the SHOWstudio panel, those comments were the “ranting’s of a madman” who was “on the verge of a breakdown”. John was by no means using his alcoholism and drug addiction to justify his actions, he has profusely apologised for them time and time again, and actively sought help to better himself and atone for his actions in the best possible way. He was using his illness to explain why he said those things and why they weren’t a part of the man himself. To treat him so much more harshly than the parties involved in case studies before him, simply facilitates fashion’s hypocrisy complex and thereupon, the valid discrimination of others.
Like nepotism, I don’t think hypocrisy is a quality that will completely vanish from the fashion industry, because it’s part of human nature. Hopefully more people will become more, or rather aware of it.
By Ashley Agedah
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