John Galliano has spoken for the first time since his racist outburst three years ago. The 52-year-old disgraced fashion designer admitted that he had been spiteful when he hurled anti-Semitic insults at Paris patrons, but insisted he didn't mean it.
The acclaimed British designer made headlines in February 2011 when he was arrested after making anti-Semitic tirade towards a couple at a café in La Marais district in Paris. He was drinking heavily in a local bar when he verbally attacked.
A video showing Galliano on a similar rant in a separate incident also surfaced, in which the drunken designer declared his love for Hitler, telling a group of Italian women, which he presumably mistook for Jews, that they should be dead and their ancestors should have been gassed.
The scandal caused him his career. He had been fired from the luxury fashion house Dior, in which he was head designer since 1996. His French Legion of Honour medal was also revoked after the Paris Courts found him guilty of making anti-Semitic remarks. He had been basically shunned by the industry.
He disappeared from the public eye since then.
Now, in his first sober interview since the incidents, Galliano sat down with Vanity Fair magazine's contributing editor Ingrid Sischy to open up about his downfall and planned rise.
"It's the worst thing I have said in my life, but I didn't mean it," he said, referring to his racist slurs. "I have been trying to find out why that anger was directed at this race. I now realise I was so fu****** angry and so discontent with myself that I just said the most spiteful thing I could."
He reiterated, though, that he didn't remember what he had done, saying, "When everyone came over to tell me that I had done these terrible things, I was walking around and round and round not really knowing what had gone down.
"My assistant told me about the video. When I saw it, I threw up. The feeling was like I was about to take a step out onto the street and a bus or truck whooshed past me and the blood was drained from my legs. I was paralysed from the fear."
Galliano, who was awarded British Designer of the Year multiple times, described how his fame and success became toxic, saying he was in denial that he had a problem at first.
"What had started as self-expression turned into a mask. I lived in a bubble. I would be backstage and there would be a queue of five people to help me. One person would have a cigarette for me. The next person would have the lighter. I did not know how to use the ATM."
He said that he spent the last couple of years learning how to battle his drinking and drug addiction. He entered a rehab facility in Arizona to recover. He also took steps for atonement, such as reading books on the Holocaust and Jewish history and meeting with Jewish leaders.
Despite everything that happened, however, he had been grateful for his fall from grace.
"I have learned so much about myself. I have rediscovered that little boy who had the hunger to create, which I think I had lost. I am alive."
Galliano's full interview with Vanity Fair comes out in its July issue.
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