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Fashion provocateur Galliano sacked by Dior

PARIS (AP) _ John Galliano, long a top fashion-world provocateur on and off the runway, went too far this time.

The storied French label Christian Dior said Tuesday it was firing the zany British bad boy after video showing him spouting ``I love Hitler'' in a drunken rant went viral online _ sending shock waves through the start of Paris Fashion Week. 

John Galliano arrives at the police station in Paris. (AP)
John Galliano arrives at the police station in Paris. (AP)

The ouster followed a barrage of accusations and revelations about Galliano's outbursts that spelled major career trouble for the talented and moneymaking couturier.

The allegations of bigotry had put Dior, which battles crosstown rival Chanel for the title of world's top fashion house, in the hot seat: Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman, the new advertising face of the Miss Dior Cherie perfume line, who is Jewish, expressed fury over the remarks.

Galliano's sacking marked the latest bout of scandal to shake the rarified fashion world, including last year's suicide of Alexander McQueen, another celebrated British designer, and supermodel Kate Moss' brief stint in the industry wilderness after photos of her snorting cocaine went public in 2005.

``Knowing John's proclivity for provocation on the runway and in life, to hear such accusations wasn't surprising,'' said Dana Thomas, a fashion guru and author of ``Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster,'' an expose of the luxury industry.

``But the videos that went viral yesterday were too damning to deny,'' she said. ``I'm sure (Dior CEO Sidney) Toledano was deeply hurt because he's Jewish.''

``It's an insolence that's unforgivable,'' she added.

Fashionistas almost uniformly said Dior would pull through the controversy, and some even suggested the episode gave it a chance to clean its slate after Galliano's 15-year rein as its mastermind of creation.

The 50-year-old designer's tailspin began after a couple accused him of hurling anti-Semitic insults at them Thursday at La Perle, a trendy eatery in Paris' Marais district _ a hip neighborhood known for its sizable gay and Jewish populations.

As word got out that police were investigating, another woman came forward Saturday accusing Galliano of similar anti-Semitic insults in October at the same brasserie.

An apparent smoking gun emerged Monday when the British daily The Sun posted a video on its website showing Galliano, his speech slurred, appearing to taunt two women diners.

At one point, a woman's voice asks Galliano, ``Are you blond, with blue eyes?''

Galliano replied: ``No, but I love Hitler, and people like you would be dead today. Your mothers, your forefathers, would be ... gassed and ... dead.''

Making anti-Semitic remarks can bring up to six months in prison in France, and Galliano appeared in a Paris police station Monday to face the accusations against him.

In what some hailed as an appropriate and quick response, Christian Dior SA said Tuesday it had launched termination proceedings for Galliano and decried ``the particularly odious nature of the behavior and words'' in the video.

Galliano's lawyer did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

News of Galliano's firing hit Tuesday's start of Paris' nine-day-long ready-to-wear marathon like a tidal wave, with journalists, editors and stylists reading out Dior's statement on a shuttle bus between shows.

Some murmured that Dior had long been looking to part with Galliano, and this was a way out. Others feared that it might bring his brilliant career to a tragic finish _ and possibly overshadow his legacy.

Dior said it still planned to go ahead with its Galliano-designed fall-winter 2011-12 collection on Friday as part of Paris fashion week.

Trying to limit the fallout, press officers at the designer's signature label, John Galliano, spent much of the day checking with journalists, critics, stylists and editors to make sure they would be attending its women's wear show, scheduled for Sunday.

Questions were bound to arise about whether Galliano's fame and fawning fans had gone to his head, or whether he had succumbed to the pressures of the high-octane, big-payoff industry.

``The situation is extremely sad. Creative people like John _ great artists, great writers _ often wrestle with the devil in the form of the bottle or drugs,'' Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief of American Marie Claire, said. After seeing the video, she said, ``You were left thinking, 'What on earth was he thinking?'''

``The pressure is probably less when you start somewhere than when you've been there for some time and have to continue to produce at such a high level,'' she said. ``We're very curious to see who replaces John.''

The guessing-game got going in earnest from the moment it became clear Galliano was out.

While some fashion insiders put their money on Alber Elbaz, who has transformed Lanvin from a musty old label into one of Paris' hottest, others said Givenchy's Riccardo Tischi was their man.

Since his appointment in 1996, Galliano, who was born in Gibraltar and grew up in London, made an indelible mark on the storied House of Dior. Season after season, he reinterpreted the iconic New Look pieces pioneered by founder Christian Dior, managing to make the designs first fielded after World War II fresh and youthful.

Galliano's glorious past collections channeled inspiration like ancient Egypt _ with models in Nefertiti eye makeup and King Tut beards _ as well as Masai tribespeople accessorized with rows of beaded necklaces and crop-brandishing equestrians of the 19th century.

Always theatrical and sometimes outrageous, Galliano's star-studded runway shows are big-budget blockbusters and among the most-anticipated displays on the Paris calendar.

For years, Galliano has made a spectacle of himself at the end of his shows, prancing out in a rooster-style strut, arms akimbo, his chin up and head cocked back. Backstage he holds court for reporters' questions and fan emulation while seated on a high-backed chair resembling a throne.

Galliano's days holding court at Dior are over.
Natalie Portman(AP)
Natalie Portman(AP)

The last straw appeared to be a statement by Portman, who won an Oscar on Sunday for ``Black Swan,'' expressing shock and disgust at the video. ``As an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way,'' she said.

Marcellous Jones, editor-in-chief of magazine, said he was ``really surprised that Dior actually had the conviction to fire John Galliano because he makes them a lot of money.''

``I think we were all expecting them to send him to rehab and so they are actually firing him. It's a bold move,'' he said. ``It marks a dramatic end to one of the greatest eras in the history of the house of Dior in terms of its international reputation.''

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, praised Dior's move in a statement saying Galliano's words had caused pain around the world _ notably among Holocaust survivors and their relatives.

``The fact that someone is brilliant in a certain field does not immunize him from facing the consequences of words that are hateful, bigoted or prejudiced,'' Foxman said. ``Galliano is a public figure with a high profile, but he is apparently also a serial bigot.''

Outside Dior's flagship store on ritzy Avenue Montaigne in Paris, fashion aficionados expressed surprise and anger.

``I'm shocked because the name of Dior has always been related to John Galliano _ he's creative, he's a big designer, and everybody is waiting for his fashion show every season,'' said Shams, a Kuwaiti singer. ``I can't believe it.''


<디올 모델 포트먼 "갈리아노 몹시 불쾌">

(파리=연합뉴스) 올해 아카데미상 여우주연상 수상자인 내털리

포트먼이 술에 취해 유대인을 폄하한데 이어 히틀러를 옹호한 것으로 알려진 크리스

챤 디올의 존 갈리아노(50) 수석 디자이너에 대해 깊은 불괘감을 표시했다고 프랑스 언론이 1일 보도했다.

리베라시옹 신문 인터넷판에 따르면, 유대인인 포트먼은 지난달 28일 성명을 내고 "(아돌프) 히틀러를 사랑한다고 말한 갈리아노의 동영상을 보고 충격을 받았으며 몹시 불쾌했다"고 밝혔다.

'미스 디올 쉐리' 향수의 광고 모델인 포트먼은 "유대인의 긍지를 갖고 있는 한 개인으로서 앞으로 어떤 방식으로도 갈리아노와는 관련되지 않겠다"면서 그의  발언이 아직도 존재하는 이런 편견과 맞서도록 다짐할 수 있는 계기가 되길 바란다고 말했다.

갈리아노는 지난달 24일 밤 프랑스 파리 도심의 마레 지구의 한 카페에서  옆자리에 있던 커플과 다투다 유대인을 모욕하는 표현을 한 혐의로 경찰에 연행된 후 크리스챤 디오르 측으로부터 정직 조치를 받았다.

그러나 갈리아노는 같은 카페에서 다른 차림으로 히틀러를 사랑한다고 말한  동영상이 영국의 더 선 신문 웹사이트에 지난달 28일 게재되면서 더욱 궁지에 몰린 상태다. 그는 이날 경찰에 출두해 조사를 받았으나 혐의를 전면 부인한 것으로 알려졌다.

포트먼은 발레를 소재로 한 '블랙 스완'으로 골든글로브 여우주연상에 이어  아카데미 여우주연상을 차지했다.