UPDATE: John Galliano has released a statement in which he apologizes, says “I must face up to my own failures” and announces he is headed to rehab. Read the full statement here.
Sometimes I make the mistake of thinking people in creative, free-thinking professions like writing or fashion design have progressive views to back them up. My mistake. Designer John Galliano was arrested last week and fired from Dior yesterday after video tape surfaced of him slurring at patrons in a Paris café, “I love Hitler. … People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be f**king gassed.” Indefensible, right? But bizarrely, fashion designer Patricia Field from “Sex and the City,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” and “Confessions Of A Shopaholic,” has come to his defense. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Patricia Field claimed John Galliano’s slurry rant was just “acting out a character”:
““People in fashion all they do is go and see John Galliano theater every season. That’s what he gives them. To me, this was the same except it wasn’t in a theater or in a movie. … John lives in theater. It’s theater. It’s farce. But people in fashion don’t recognize the farce in it. All of a sudden they don’t know him. But it’s OK when it’s Mel Brooks’ ‘The Producers’ singing ‘Springtime for Hitler.’ … They don’t even see the farce in it. Fashion people who know him have not come forward. They know his theater.”
Field also added that her stepfather is Jewish, presumably to explain why she wasn’t hurt or offended by her friend’s anti-Semitic remarks.
Look, loyalty is an amazing quality in a friend. I consider myself an extremely loyal person and I, too, have stood up for friends who said things that I didn’t personally agree with, yet I felt the person I knew shouldn’t be slammed for. Patricia Field seems to know John Galliano well enough (or not at all well enough!) to feel confident enough to blab to reporters that telling people, presumably Jews, they should be “f**king gassed” was a misunderstanding.
A much classier response, however, would have been akin to Natalie Portman’s. The famously Jewish actress (neé Natalie Herschlag), who is the face of Miss Dior Cherie perfume, was quick to release a statement condemning Galliano’s anti-Semitic comments and encouraging a more thoughtful response:
“I hope at the very least, these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful.”
John Galliano is lucky to have a friend like Patricia Field. But I suspect one day when this incident is less fresh, less shocking, and less impassioned, she’ll think carefully about what Galliano said and regret being a friend to him.