Repulsive Little Fashion Troll

Manolo says, to be filed under things that make the Manolo both sad and angry.

Fasion guru John Galliano was filmed having a vile racist rant during which he declared: “I love Hitler.”

The British designer – an alleged Jew hater – then tells a horrified woman: “People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be f****** gassed.”

John Galliano

Repulsive Little Fashion Troll


His tirade was videoed by a friend of the people he was insulting – who were French and Italian, but not Jewish.

Galliano, 50, was at the same Paris bar where he allegedly launched a vicious verbal attack on two people last week – which led to him being arrested and suspended by fashion label Christian Dior.

After stating he loves Hitler and making the gassing remark, a woman is heard to say, ‘Oh my God’ before asking slurring Galliano if he had a problem.

He said: “With you. You’re ugly.” Asked where he was from, he said: “Your a***hole.”

Dior should fire John Galliano. Such behavior is beyond the bounds of what should be tolerated. Nothing more needs to be said about this specific instance.

However, such repulsive behavior in one so mightily talented raises the larger question: how does one separate the art from the artist?

The sad fact is that great talent is often found in horrible people.

How can this be?

So, how does one enjoy the transcendent clothing of John Galliano without feeling that one is somehow patronizing the bigot?

How to sanction the artist, while admitting that his art brings beauty and joy to the world?

The Manolo, who loves the poetry of Ezra Pound, the music of Wagner, and the clothing of John Galliano, has no easy answer to this question.

32 Responses to “Repulsive Little Fashion Troll”

  1. shuzluva February 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    I have never been so disappointed by a rant in my life. And unfortunately, I’ll never look at Galliano, or any house he works with, the same. Nor will I ever patronize them. I’m selling my Miss Dior bag. I should probably burn it, but I’d rather have the money than carry something that this ridiculous bigot designed.

  2. marc February 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    “No easy answer” is the most honest thing one can say about this phenomenon. It’s nice when admirable folks like Mozart and Beethoven are great. It’s mildly embarrassing when great people aren’t great artists. It’s just plain difficult when the nasties make beautiful things. Above all, the lack of easy answers can serve to lend us some sort of welcome modesty about the impossibility of knowing everything about something we love so much that we want to know everything about it.

  3. Sarah S February 28, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    We’d like to think that only a beautiful soul could produce beautiful work, but we know it’s not true. We have, as the Manolo rightly observes, Pound and Galliano and Dali and hundreds of other artists of every kind who stand as evidence to the contrary.

    It’s probably a question of a personal tipping point. When does the creator become so reprehensible that the creation is overwhelmed and set in the shade? I suspect that tipping point is different for every person, and that the particular issues that trigger that tipping will vary as well.

    • Anonymous March 1, 2011 at 3:31 am #

      Thank you for posting that. The idea of each person having a different “tipping point” is a fascinating one.

  4. Jane2 February 28, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    Yes, Dior should fire him….he hurts the brand. Dior can find another wonderful designer…it’s not as if the fashion giant started with Galliano, and it certainly will not end there.

    Galliano can be a fabulous artist all by himself and those who are not bothered by Galliano the individual can continue to purchase his stuff.

    • Amy March 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

      My feelings exactly. If Galliano is such a genius, let him go out on his own, and let those who can look past his being such a vile toad buy his clothes.

  5. Long Island February 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    I heard a rumor and was wondering if it was true … was Natalie Portman going to wear a Dior dress and at the last minute decided to wear the Rodarte gown?

    If true what a fashion nightmare trying to find a new dress at the last minute and being very pregnant. Given what he said I am not sure Portman had any other choice.

  6. wildflower February 28, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    What about Wilhelm Furtwängler and Herbert von Karajan? I don’t think they were anti-Semetic, but they did join the Nazi party and perform for Nazi top brass.

  7. Jelly February 28, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    This article reminds me of how George Orwell wrote of Salvador Dali. The most powerful quote from his essay The Benefit of Clergy is:
    “The one does not invalidate or, in a sense, affect the other. The first thing that we demand of a wall is that it shall stand up. If it stands up, it is a good wall, and the question of what purpose it serves is separable from that. And yet even the best wall in the world deserves to be pulled down if it surrounds a concentration camp.”

    I am always sad to see things like this in the news.

  8. Lisa in Berlin February 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    Maybe he IS an evil little man, but there’s also the possibility that he is just very mentally ill. Not making excuses for the guy, but I think we should keep that possibility in mind.

    • The gold digger March 1, 2011 at 10:13 am #

      No, I don’t buy the mentally ill argument. Some people just choose evil. They know right from wrong and they choose wrong. Even my husband’s sister, who was a mentally ill heroin addict, knew to wait until she was on a bus pulling away from the stop to flip off a cop. She knew that there were consequences for actions and that she needed to be careful with her actions.

      I heard an interview on NPR yesterday with a man who is an expert on Libya. The very first questions was, “Is Qadaffi mentally ill?” Really? She really thought that was the problem instead of his desire for absolute power and his disregard for the well-being of his fellow citizens?

  9. Jennie February 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    I can’t separate the two. I cannot support Roman Polanski, Mel Gibson (broke my heart), Tom Cruise, or any other “artist” that has such a polluted soul. We are human, we err, but when do we say no? “Oh, they are troubled…” That excuse would get me arrested and locked up. When we finally achieve zero tolerance for these haters, wars will end, prejudice will disappear, and maybe we can become truly humane.

    • caia March 1, 2011 at 2:26 am #

      There is a visceral revulsion that occurs when someone does not just err, but grossly and seriously transgresses… and proceeds without remorse or shame, indeed without the slightest acknowledgment of wrongdoing. Such a person excludes themselves from ever being worthy of my time again.

      After all, it is not as if we owe these men (usually, but not always men; their enablers and apologists are just as likely to be women) anything. They make movies or dresses or poetry; I do not owe them my eyes and ears to view them. I certainly don’t owe them money. (I wouldn’t anyway; I do not have any knowledge that certain actors are bad people, but I have no desire to see them perform.)

      The exclusion is not always easy. If it were easy, it would not be meaningful. And of course, we all have our own metrics, as others have said. Me, I will not watch another Polanski movie, or ever read Allen Ginsberg.

      • Anonymous March 2, 2011 at 2:47 am #

        Excellent reply by caia.

    • Anonymous March 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

      Wars will not end when hate ends. Sometimes war is the product of when a group of individuals put their fear and special interest over all else; other times wars are a symptom of the times. Like most things in life, nothing is black, nothing is white. Most of it, lies furiously in the greys, where it defies absolute judgment.

      I think the ultimate lesson here is that designers, artists, celebrities, are just human. We forget that, and we sometimes do everything short of deifying them. And when they reveal that they are flawed like everyone else, we put them on the chopping block.

      Surely it is the individual’s prerogative to choose whether or not they’ll support a designer’s work for whatever the reason, but let us not forget, that we, like them, are human too. What matters not isn’t what’s said in our occasional moments of insanity; it’s what they do about it after. I certainly hope that when I err, others won’t put me in front of the firing squad.

  10. Dani February 28, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    Sarah S, your comment is quite insightful. I’d also add that not only are the issues that trigger the tipping point different for different people, but on the other side of the scale what’s being created matters, too. Christian Barnard is a good example of that. He did some very questionable things, but there is no doubt his techniques have saved thousands and thousands of lives. However, my tolerance for a pioneering heart surgeon is greater than the tolerance I would have for a fashion designer. Dior should cut Galliano loose.

  11. Marie February 28, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    Sadly, one suspects that — as with Mel Gibson — Galliano felt at liberty to make such remarks because he had made them before, and they were tolerated when less public. Anyone with any power at Dior who has heard him say such things and has not spoken up should be vastly ashamed.

    Alas when the troll within exceeds the troll without.

  12. g-dog February 28, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    Disgusting doesn’t even began to describe this vehement hatred. Kick him out – for good.

    Next up -Charlie Sheen – who seems childishly innocent by comparison, though is still careening down a road of self-destruction, chattering the whole way (drug-induced or not — still batshit crazy)

  13. Nora Charles March 1, 2011 at 2:32 am #

    Nicky says: “The Manolo has hit upon the problem of the ages – how to reconcile the artist’s work with the artist. Is Barbra Streisand’s voice as sweet knowing her politics are deranged? Is a performance by Sean Penn still quality knowing he is a vacant waste of space?

    “One finds it a supremely challenging act of the will to separate the two.”

    Nicky loves Nora… and the shoes.

    • caia March 1, 2011 at 2:41 am #

      Yeah, working in Haiti for Haitians… total waste of space.

      And since when is being a different political party than you = deranged?

      We are talking here about a men who advocate murder. Who applaud genocide. Who rape children.

      You’re talking about pressing R or D in the voting booth.

      Do you not see that there is a difference?

      • Nora Charles March 1, 2011 at 5:36 am #

        Nicky and I are from Australia

  14. Anodised March 1, 2011 at 6:49 am #

    I, for one, would not support someone like this.

  15. angelhair March 1, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    Galliano has now been fired by Dior. And Natalie Portman has severed her ties with the company. Both actions are appropriate and necessary.

    There are many artists that I strongly disagree with politically, and find their thought processes simplistic, childish and immature and incoherent. But unless they really go off the rails into vile hate or spreading lies I can usually listen to their music, see their movies, etc. But sometimes a line is crossed and you can’t go back. Galliano has crossed that line for me. It’s unlikely that I would ever have been able to afford any of his creations so it’s a moot point but still. He’s a racist pig, albeit a supremely talented one.

  16. Dee March 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Ezra Pound and Wagner are both dead, however, and not in a position to benefit financially from anyone’s support or acceptance of their art, unlike Galliano or Mel Gibson or Charlie Sheen.

  17. La Petite Acadienne March 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    That theory of the tipping point is an excellent one. And the more talented the individual, the more repugnant they have to become in order for most peoples’ tipping points to be reached. As a society, we excuse a LOT when it comes from someone who is truly gifted.

    However, there are certain deeds that just automatically cast a pall onto the artist’s work — and this is one of them.

    Plus, from a purely business standpoint, Dior would be idiotic to not fire him. A designer who’s a bit controversial is good for business. A designer who talks about gassing Jews? Um, not so much.

  18. wildflower March 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    I can understand being repulsed by an artist who expresses abhorrent viewpoints, but on the other hand, a boycott of this sort is different from, say, boycotting a company that abuses its workers. In the latter case, you hit them financially, say you won’t patronize them until they change their employee treatment, and if they do, then yay, you win, right?

    But in the case of an individual expressing a reprehensible viewpoint, there’s nothing you can reasonably ask him to change. You can’t say, “I won’t buy your art until you publicly declare that you are okay with Jewish people/black people/gay people!” That doesn’t make any sense, and really won’t accomplish anything, and even if he does make such a pronouncement to win back patrons, I don’t see that it’ll change him as a person. Furthermore, is it your job to reform strangers?

    In this case, all a boycott would do is stop the artist from working in his field. So he’d change from being a contemptible man who nevertheless contributes something beautiful to society, to a contemptible man either not working or working a job that doesn’t allow him to contribute anything special.

  19. La Petite Acadienne March 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    True, but we have to look at ourselves, as well. What does it say about us, as a society, if we continue to pad the pockets of someone so hateful and abhorrent, just because he makes beautiful things? What message is that sending?

    Frankly, why SHOULDN’T the uber-talented be held to the same standard as the rest of us? Permitting crap behaviour, on the grounds that the person is somehow more valuable to society, is the sort of mindset that leads the very rich or the very famous to think that they’re above the law and above society’s mores.

  20. wildflower March 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    I DO think they should be held to the same standard as the rest of us, what I’m wondering is what that standard is. I’m an engineer. If I rant on the street about being, say, homophobic, or racist, would you say, “You’re not allowed to work as an engineer any more!” Okay, so I could retrain to be a librarian or an accountant. What did you achieve there? I’m still a jerk.

  21. Indie March 1, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    My tipping point was definitely tipped! If I had any of his designs, I’d get rid of them, too. Got to admire Natalie Portman for changing her plans at the last minute. I would rather go out wrapped in a towel.

  22. Miss Eliza Wharton March 1, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    Oh Manolo, this is SO painful… I’d add to your list Louis-Ferdinand Céline, one of the absolute greatest french writer of the XXth century, and the worse kind of antisemitic asshole ever.
    You seem to be sensitive to separation between the art and the artist, and if so, I’m totally with you. If I were wearing a Galliano dress today, I would not be handing nazi tracts in the streets. Boycott is a kind of moral panic that at the end of the day follows from our tendency to take artists as heroes, and moral standards. They are not. Galliano is a moron, so be it. His dresses are not metaphorical walls around a metaphorical camp.
    Dior’s decision is obviously correct (especially given what one reads above). But I for one still want to see what he designs. For I love the dresses, and couldn’t care less about who he is. Loving art is not distributing moral awards.

    This sad affair certainly tainted the pleasure I took to his work, though.

  23. Virginia Postrel March 1, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    What about Chanel? She certainly had no scruples about cozying up to Nazis.