Tue, June 21, 2011
Lifestyle > Fashion

Galliano to court over racist tirades

2011-06-21 03:17:24 GMT2011-06-21 11:17:24(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

British designer John Galliano acknowledges the public at the end of a Christian Dior Spring/Summer 2011 ready-to-wear collection show on Oct 1, 2010. (Francois Guillot / Agence France-Presse)

PARIS - John Galliano faces charges in a French court on Wednesday that he began spouting racist tirades at a Paris bar, which the fallen superstar designer blames on drug and alcohol addiction.

If found guilty, the 50-year-old couturier - considered one of the finest fashion designers of his generation - will face a sentence of six months in jail and a fine of 22,500 euros ($32,000).

Ever since the flamboyant designer's spectacular fall from grace that saw him sacked from Dior in March, after a total of three alleged outbursts came to light, Galliano has "been doing nothing", said his lawyer ,Aurelien Hamelle.

"He's treating his addiction to alcohol and medication. He will think about his professional future" after the trial, said Hamelle, who replaced his former lawyer, Stephane Zerbib, after Galliano accused him of embezzlement.

The British designer was arrested on Feb 24 in a drunken state after a couple in a cafe in Paris' fashionable and historically Jewish Marais district alleged he had subjected them to a stream of anti-Semitic abuse.

Another woman then came forward to say she had suffered a similar attack in October last year and then a video surfaced of Galliano insulting someone else in the same bar and declaring "I love Hitler".

Galliano has issued an apology for his behavior, but insisted it was not anti-Semitic. He has lodged a counter-complaint against the couple in the first incident, alleging defamation.

But in the footage published online by Britain's Sun newspaper, a visibly drunk Galliano tells another couple, in the same Paris bar, La Perle, "I love Hitler".

He adds: "People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be... gassed."

The release of the video prompted fashion house Dior to sack their star designer, saying his behavior and language was "particularly odious" and sending shockwaves through Paris' tightly knit fashion world.

"This video, where he even looks a little strange to himself, gave him a shock," said Hamelle.

Galliano has already said that he will attend the trial, as will hundreds of the world's media.

Five people are expected to testify, including two girls who had sat next to him during the Feb 24 altercation and say they had not heard him make anti-Semitic comments.

However, two Italian friends of the woman who was allegedly insulted by Galliano last year are set to confirm her version of events.

For Galliano's lawyer, the varying testimonies show that there's some doubt about what was actually said.

Galliano himself "does not remember because he was in an altered state", said Hamelle.

(Agencies)

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