Dior to sack Galliano over 'anti-semitic' rant
French fashion house Dior said Tuesday it had begun proceedings to sack chief designer John Galliano after a video surfaced showing him insulting cafe patrons and declaring "I love Hitler".
The British couturier had already been suspended by the historic firm last week after he was arrested and questioned by French police over allegations that he had subjected a couple to a drunken, anti-semitic tirade.
On Tuesday, after the British daily The Sun released a video of an earlier incident in the same Paris cafe, footage in which he launched a similar rant, the firm announced that he was to be dismissed.
"I condemn in the strongest terms the things said by John Galliano, which are in complete opposition to the essential values that have always been defended by the Christian Dior house," said managing director Sidney Toledano.
The fashion house described the behaviour and language of the 50-year-old designer in the amateur video as "particularly odious" and said he would be dismissed from his high-profile job in short order.
News of the sacking overshadowed this week's start of Paris' annual Fashion Week, the high point of the international women's wear calendar, and came as French prosecutors decided whether to charge Galliano with anti-semitism.
A judicial official said prosecutors expect to announce later on Tuesday whether any charges would emerge from their inquiry. "Either the probe will lead to prosecutions or it won't, but we'll soon know," he said.
On Tuesday, police interviewed Galliano and his accusers: a couple who allege he insulted and threatened them last week in La Perle, a cafe in Paris' fashionable Marais district, and a woman who said he abused her last year.
While other witnesses have confirmed that the couple had a fierce dispute with Galliano in La Perle on Thursday night, no independent source is thought to have confirmed that he used anti-semitic language.
But his defence has been weakened -- at least in terms of public opinion if not judicially -- by a video published on the Internet by The Sun in which he is seen abusing another couple, again in La Perle.
"I love Hitler," a visibly drunk Galliano declares. "People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed."
Asked where he is from, Galliano replies: "Your arsehole."
In a blow for the fashion house's image, Oscar-winning "Black Swan" actress Natalie Portman, who is Jewish and the face of a Dior perfume, said she was "disgusted" with the superstar designer.
"In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr Galliano in any way," she said, in a statement.
Portman, who has an endorsement contract with Dior for its Miss Dior Cherie perfume and appears in the firm's advertising, won the best actress Oscar on Sunday for her role in the ballet thriller "Black Swan".
"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," she said.
Dior's 2011 autumn-winter collection will be unveiled as planned at a Paris Fashion Week catwalk show on Friday, without Galliano, whose flamboyant rock star poses usually mark the climax of the house's presentations.
© 2011 AFP