John Galliano arrived at court in Paris today where he is being tried for allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks — a criminal offense in France — at three people. Two are a couple, museum curator Geraldine Bloch and her boyfriend, Philippe Virgitti, a receptionist, who claim Galliano called them "dirty Jew" and "Asian bastard," respectively, while they were having cocktails at a bar near Galliano's apartment. The third plaintiff is an unnamed 47-year-old French woman, who says he verbally attacked her in the same bar, La Perle, in October. The hearing should last only this afternoon, and a ruling is due in September. The maximum sentence is six months in jail and a $34,000 fine. Galliano's lawyer, Aurelien Hamelle, plans to argue that the designer was "ill" at the time of the incidents, she tells the Telegraph.
"One obvious thing is that John Galliano was ill," his lawyer Aurelien Hamelle said yesterday (Tues).
"He had a triple addiction to alcohol, benzodiazepine (Valium) and sleeping pills ... The combined effect of these drugs is a state of complete and utter abandon."
Pressure to perform led him to drink heavily and take Valium pills "like candy" as well as sleeping pills regularly, Miss Hamelle said.
"When he was in that state he had no way of knowing or remembering what he said."
Court documents state that Galliano's outbursts happened so frequently, that his chauffeur, who often drove him around Paris in a yellow New York taxi, would call his lawyer "when the f**** began to fly." Apparently the driver tried to get Bloch to talk to Galliano's lawyer on February 24, when he allegedly called her a "dirty Jew." On the stand, Galliano said he doesn't remember what happened on that date very well, but added that one of the plaintiffs exhibited aggression toward him.
The courtroom itself is a bit of a scene. Snickers could be heard as the judge read Galliano's anti-Semitic remarks in English, and then translated them into French. Debate has also ensued as to the appropriateness of Galliano's outfit — a black suit with black brogues, and a black necktie with white polka dots, no hat, his hair straight, smooth, and natural-looking. While British Voguecalled his look "conservative," and the Telegraph "sombre," one person following the trial tweeted, "Galliano dressed 'conservatively'? The guy is not wearing a shirt! Come on, Vogue!"
Update 12:48: "I have a triple addiction. I followed a rehab programme, spent two months in Arizona, I am still being treated and spent two months in Switzerland," Galliano told the court. (Meanwhile, Belinda White reports the designer has been spending time "at the atelier of a leading fashion designer in New York working on Kate Moss' wedding dress.") "I'm still in recovery but feeling much better," said Galliano, adding his father's death was also affecting him.
All he remembers, he claims, of the night in the Paris bar, is that things got aggressive, his driver intervened, and the police showed up. He doesn't remember exactly what he said to the couple.
Explaining the reasons for his downfall overall, he cited the pressures of his work, telling the court:
"At the time of the financial crash, I have two children. One was Dior, the other was Galliano.
Dior is a big machine and I didn’t want to lose Galliano (his company). AT this point in order for that house of Galiano to survive, I met many businessmen and signed many licences.
So the collections to increase men’s wear, women's, children, shoes boys and girls, perfume projects, jewellery, fine jewellery. Beach wear underwear, boys and girl's clothes. The workload increased very fast.