Famed fashion house Christian Dior SA suspended creative director John Galliano on Friday after he was detained and accused of an anti-Semitic insult, in a bombshell development days before Paris catwalks heat up for fashion week.
Dior said in a statement it suspended Galliano pending an investigation into an incident in a Paris restaurant Thursday night.
Paris prosecutors said a couple in the restaurant accused Galliano of making anti-Semitic insults. A police official said Galliano also exchanged slaps with the couple.
The British designer was questioned and released after the incident. Both officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, say Galliano's blood alcohol levels were high.
"The House of Dior confirms, with the greatest firmness, its policy of zero tolerance for any anti-Semitic or racist comments," Sidney Toledano, CEO of Dior Couture, said in the statement.
Galliano's suspension is a big blow at a bad moment for one of world fashion's most storied companies. Dior would not comment on whether it would present its collection as planned at the fall-winter 2011-2012 ready-to-wear shows that start up in Paris next week.
Galliano's French lawyer did not immediately return calls Friday.
Galliano's flamboyant personality and over-the-top creations have become synonymous with Dior over his 14-year tenure. He revamped and modernized the image of the house and sent out intricate, imaginative collections themed around everything from ancient Egypt to Masai tribesmen and 18th century equestrians.
Known for his chameleon style, he thrills fashion insiders at the end of each runway show by taking a puffed-out rooster strut, always in an outrageous costume.
Dior is owned by luxury group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.