Court convicts Galliano in anti-Semitism case

Disgraced former creative director of Dior fined $8,400 for derogatory rant in Paris

Published September 8, 2011 12:34PM (EDT)

A Paris court convicted former Christian Dior designer John Galliano on Thursday for making anti-Semitic insults in a bar but gave him only a suspended sentence, taking into account his apology to the victims.

Galliano, who didn't attend the announcement of the verdict, was given no prison time. He was given a suspended euro6,000 ($8,400) fine, which means it goes on his criminal record but he does not have to pay it.

The Paris court found him guilty of "public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity" stemming from two separate incidents at a Paris bar.

The accusations earlier this year cost Galliano his job at the luxury house and roiled the fashion world.

Galliano said he had been under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs at the time and couldn't recall the incidents in question.

The judge said the court found Galliano had "sufficient awareness of his act despite his addiction and his fragile state." But the court also took into account that he apologized to the plaintiffs during the June trial and noted the "values of tolerance" in his work.

His lawyer, Aurelien Hamelle, called it "a really strong sign from the court."

Asked about Galliano's future plans, he said only that his client is "looking forward to the future" and "will continue to care for himself."

After 15 critically acclaimed and commercially successful years at Dior, the flamboyant Briton's brilliant career flamed out after a couple alleged he accosted them while they were having a drink at Paris' hip La Perle cafe on Feb. 24.

Another woman soon came forward with similar claims about a separate incident in the same cafe. Days later, the British tabloid The Sun posted a video showing a visibly drunk Galliano insulting a fellow cafe client, slurring: "I love Hitler."

As the video went viral, Dior took swift and decisive action against the man it had long treated as icon, sacking Galliano days before the label's fall-winter 2011 runway show in March. Galliano was later also ousted from his eponymous label, which is also owned by Dior's parent company.

At his daylong trial in June, Galliano resembled a broken, crumpled shadow of his once-inflated self.

In extensive and often-moving testimony, Galliano was contrite and humble, telling the three-judge panel he was sorry "for the sadness that this whole affair has caused."

He said he'd done a stint in a rehab clinic in Arizona and was recovering from addictions to alcohol, sleeping pills and barbiturates -- habits he blamed on the pressures of the high-stakes fashion industry.

Galliano -- a 50-year-old who was born Juan Carlos Galliano to a Spanish mother in the British Iberian enclave of Gibraltar -- rejected any suggestion he was fundamentally racist, saying his multi-cultural-infused work spoke for itself.

He has culled inspiration for his extravagant, theatrical collections from cultures as far-flung as Kenya's Massai people and the geishas of Japan.

By Jenny Barchfield

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