Galliano, anti-Semitism again?

Last updated 09:34 15/02/2013
Fairfax Australia

Designer John Galliano has upset some in the Jewish community after appearing to emulate their religious dress during fashion week.

DISGRACED: Designer John Galliano.

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For a man with a track record of religious slurs, John Galliano should know to keep his powder dry.

Instead, the fashion designer has aggravated Jews and whipped up a cultural storm in New York by choosing to wear what looks suspiciously like an attempt at Hasidic garb.

The designer, who was sensationally fired in January 2011 from fashion heavyweight Christian Dior for an anti-Semitic rant at a Paris bar, wore a black rimmed hat, a long dark coat and what appeared to be peyos, or sidecurls on Tuesday (local time).

The New York Post leapt to point an accusatory finger at Galliano, branding a full cover photo of the designer with the word "Shmuck!" next to the headline, "Jew-bash designer Galliano's costume mocks faithful".

As incendiary as the look may be to some observers, Galliano is not known for dressing conservatively. Often playful, rarely dull and never lacking eccentricity, the 52-year-old has in the past been photographed resembling a pirate, a 20s mafioso and an Edwardian gentleman.

Stepping in to defend the latest eyebrow-raising costume, the Anti-Defamation League's Abraham Foxman has dismissed the cynical reading of the outfit as "a ridiculous, absurd distortion".

In a statement, he went on to say that there is no truth in the New York Post's rendering of Galliano as mocking Hasidim, "and anyone familiar with the dress of traditional Orthodox Jews should not mistake what Galliano is wearing in the photograph as Hasidic garb ... Hasidim do not wear fedora hats, pinstripe pants, blue jackets or an ascot tie.

"This is John Galliano being John Galliano. His dress is always eccentric and his hair is always worn long ... This is, at the very least, ignorance on the part of the reporters and editors at the Post, or, at worst, a deliberate, malicious distortion in an effort to sell newspapers."

Foxman said that the designer, who has admitted to alcoholism, is attempting to mend his ways, even meeting with a Rabbi and learning Holocaust history after the infamous Parisian bar episode in which he slurred "I love Hitler".

Working hard to rebuild his disgraced reputation, Galliano has undergone rehab and on Tuesday - the day the controversial photo was taken - completed a three-week collaboration with Oscar de la Renta at the gown impresario's New York HQ, culminating with the namesake label's New York Fashion Week show.

The Oscar de la Renta A/W13 collection has been hailed as a runaway success, featuring elements of both designers' styles, while de la Renta labelled the temporary union a "lot of fun".

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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