John Galliano's fall from talented wild child to outcast has been as swift as it was merciless, but as gossip churns on potential replacements at Dior, the industry's leaders have taken an even-handed, or in some cases even sympathetic, approach.
Many suspect that the frontrunners for the job are within the ranks of LVMH — Dior's parent company — which already features talented designers such as Marc Jacobs, who designs for Louis Vuitton, and Ricardo Tisci, who designs for Givenchy. Indeed, Galliano himself earned the Dior gig after a two-year stint at Givenchy.
For the editors-in-chief of the major fashion glossies, it's likely a prudent decision to steer clear of the scandal, as we'd wager the purchasing power of Dior and its parent company, LVMH, no doubt represent a significant force in terms of ad pages.
Still, even those who have chosen to speak out have been markedly even-handed in their evaluation of Galliano's plight. Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani clearly took issue with his comments, but was quick to point out that the designer was clearly inebriated and that the whole thing might have been motivated by "journalistic scandal":
While I condemn John’s words, I think they were said in a certain moment when he wasn’t lucid. I am frightened by how quick these young people were to try to gain notoriety or money while destroying the image of a genius.
Vogue editor Alexandra Schulman took a similarly even-handed approach, admitting that he'd acted wrongly, but also pointing out that "he has a huge talent and has contributed enormously to the resurrection of the house of Dior. Who can predict what the future will bring?"
The Telegraph's Hilary Alexander called Galliano "a victim of the very celebrity he courted, enduring a 'trial by Twitter,'" and urged the community to support the designer as he grapples with his inner demons. Suzy Menkes, in an analysis piece for The New York Times, spoke both of the designer's vile words as well as the "pressures" of the industry and the "pathos in the vision of one of the world’s most famous — and best paid — designers alone, clutching a glass in a bar."
Some designers have even taken a similar approach. In an interview with The Telegraph, iconic designer Giorgio Armani said he felt "sorry" for Galliano. Patricia Field, on the other hand, defended Galliano's actions by telling WWD he was "acting out a character."
While some bloggers have expressed disdain for the lack of unadultered condemnation by fashion industry leaders, the likely source of their sympathy is that Galliano's tragic decline represents the end of the era of the wildly creative design talent. Today's designers are polished, business-friendly, camera-ready and armed with sound bites. They are also under tremendous pressure to deliver not only on creative goals, but also on business goals: Many have marked with some sadness that Galliano's troubles have occurred around the anniversary of the suicide of another troubled genius, Alexander McQueen.
For those in the industry who covered fashion's wilder heydays in the '80s and '90s, it is no doubt difficult for them to understand how some offensive remarks captured off the cuff — and while clearly drunk in a bar — can mark the end of a genius career. Surely, star designers have done worse in the past. For many in the industry, the Galliano chapter represents the turning of the page: Bad behavior is no longer tolerated, even among the industry's greatest talents.