The change in couture came as New Yorkers continued to question his motive for wearing an ensemble that included curled peyos-like sidelocks, with a long, dark coat and hat to Oscar de la Renta’s Fashion Week show.“He said he loved Hitler,” noted warehouse owner Jacob Weiss. “I think he did this to insult.”
Galliano was convicted in France of making racist slurs after a 2011 rant caught on video in which he hurled insults at a group of Italian women in a Paris bar, saying, “I love Hitler… People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be [expletive] gassed.” This incident happened just before Paris Fashion Week for Autumn/Winter 2011-12.
Natalie Portman, the Jerusalem-born American actress who is Jewish and whose great-grandparents died at Auschwitz, had an endorsement contract with Dior for its Miss Dior Cherie fragrance. In a statement, she expressed “disgust” at Galliano’s anti-Semitic comments. Portman said, “I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano’s comments that surfaced today…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.”
“The way the socks look, the jacket, the peyos [ringlets] … My question is, who’s he laughing at?” asked Brooklyn assemblyman Dov Hikind. “If it was just anyone else, I wouldn’t know what to say. But considering who this guy is, considering his background and what he’s said in the past, let him explain it to all of us: Are you mocking us?”
Isaac Abraham, a Jewish community leader in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, said that Galliano was “trying to embarrass people in the Jewish community and make money on clothes [while] dressed like people he has insulted.”
The Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman sprang to Galliano’s defense, saying that “his dress is always eccentric” and that his get-up bore absolutely no resemblance to Orthodox Jewish attire. It also claimed that Galliano has “spent hours” meeting with rabbis and Holocaust survivors since his conviction.
The distraction over Galliano’s choice of wardrobe coincides with the fact that New York’s Fashion Week featured some notable Jewish designers, including Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and Ralph Lauren.