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Friday 19 September 2014

John Galliano: Did I commit career suicide?

Published 11/06/2014 | 09:07

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British designer John Galliano appears during Christian Dior Fall-Winter 2009/2010 Haute-Couture collection show held at their headquarters in Paris, France on July 6, 2009. Photo by David Miller/ABACAPRESS.COM (Pictured: Christian Dior, John Galliano)
British designer John Galliano appears during Christian Dior Fall-Winter 2009/2010 Haute-Couture collection show held at their headquarters in Paris, France on July 6, 2009. Photo by David Miller/ABACAPRESS.COM (Pictured: Christian Dior, John Galliano)

John Galliano has been told he committed "professional suicide" because he was under so much pressure.

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The designer was sacked from his role as creative director of Christian Dior and his eponymous label in 2011 after he was caught on camera making anti-Semitic remarks while drunk in Paris. During his subsequent trial, Galliano admitted being addicted to alcohol and prescription medication. He went to rehab and spent a lot of time with Jewish groups to become more educated, and since last year he has been slowly re-entering the fashion world.

The designer has completed an interview with French psychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik for the newsweekly Le Point, in which he discusses what he has learnt about himself over the period.

"I’ve lost, but I also gained a lot. I’m a creative person, and no one can take that away from me. I’ve been told I committed professional suicide because it was the only escape from the terrible pressures I was facing. What do you think?” he asked Cyrulnik, when quizzed on whether he found his punishment too severe.

The psychiatrist responded that suicidal thoughts tend to be more about wanting a portion of life to end and a new version to begin than a true wish to die. He suggested that going forward, Galliano should try to balance his work and home life more.

The designer touches on many other things in the interview, including the problems he faced in his childhood. He cites the death of his father as a changing point, as until then he hadn't really thought about growing up or the fragility of life.

Galliano also spoke about the difficulties he suffered when he was growing up, due to his sexuality. He was teased at school for being gay and hinted he had problems from within his family too. To deal with that he began to self-medicating, something he also did when the pressure of working for Dior was too much.

"What happened in the Parisian cafe La Perle was a defence mechanism," he said. "I repeated a pattern that I had known as a teenager and I was in an explosive mix of drugs and alcohol. February 24, 2011 I was no longer myself. I said the most terrible, the most unbearable, the most horrible thing [there is]."

Galliano appeared in court charged with "public insult" and was sentenced to pay 6,000 Euros in suspended fines. During his trial he explained that work pressure and multiple addictions were to blame for his outbursts. He claimed that following the death of his assistant and close friend Steven Robinson in 2007, he began to unravel due to the highly demanding work as creative director at Dior and his severe substance abuse.

“After every creative high, I would crash and the drink would help me to escape,” he told a packed courtroom during the seven-hour hearing. “I started to have panic attacks and anxiety attacks, and I couldn’t go to work without taking Valium. My body was becoming so used to the pills, so my intake increased to an amount where I can’t actually remember how many I was taking. Sometimes I was taking sleeping pills during the day.”

In a later interview he admitted being physically sick after seeing a video of his outbursts.

Last year he worked with Oscar de la Renta as he quietly began his comeback and he has now been unveiled as Russian store L’Etoile's creative director.

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