The Anti-Defamation League continues its support of disgraced designer John Galliano, who has been hired by top fashion design school Parsons to teach a course on emotion in fashion design.
Attitudes inside and outside of the fashion community toward post-Dior Galliano, who was fired from the house after footage of his anti-Semitic tirade went viral online, have been mixed. But he at least has a fan in Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL. “I think it’s time that John Galliano be valuated on his skills,” Foxman told BuzzFeed Fashion. “I don’t know Parsons, I don’t know whether he’s a good teacher. I’m glad he’s working, I’m glad he’s continuing on with his life. I don’t have an issue, and I think people should stop hounding him on this one unfortunate happening in his life.”
Foxman said that he had spoken to Galliano recently, but declined to divulge what they talked about. “Now that he’s going to come here, I look forward to seeing him soon,” Foxman said. “We’re friends.”
Though some top editors to this day privately express disgust with Galliano’s behavior, much of the fashion industry’s support for Galliano never wavered, even at the height of his scandal. For these people — Domenico Dolce, Stefano Gabbana, and Alber Elbaz among them — Galliano’s talents have always been too great to be overshadowed by a devastatingly public fall from grace. Couple that with the continued support of Jewish leaders, and Galliano seems well on his way to staging the dramatic comeback his biggest fans have been craving since he left Dior two years ago.
Parsons — which is not a Jewish institution — joins the ADL in noting that Galliano has apologized several times for his unseemly behavior. In a statement, the school hinted that students would have the opportunity to discuss the scandal with him: “We believe that over the past two years Galliano has demonstrated a serious intent to make amends for his past actions, and as part of this workshop, Parsons students will have the opportunity to engage in a frank conversation with Mr. Galliano about the challenges and complications of leading a design house in the 21st century.”
The four-day workshop, called “Show Me Emotion!”, is open to BFA seniors “selected based upon pre-submissions reviewed by academic leadership,” the school wrote in a letter to students announcing the class. The letter continued:
A master of tailoring, construction, research, and thematic investigation, John Galliano is an unparalleled living legend capable of blending and blurring the traditional boundaries of practice. A technical genius, after more than twenty-five years of practice, what inspires him most today is not a destination of a geographical sense but the divergent journeys of the soul,mind, and reflection. Feeling, thinking, perceiving, and responding shape his current creative identity and he allows emotion to determine the depth of acollar, the volume between body and sleeve.
Since being dismissed from Dior, Galliano has been easing his way back into working as a fashion designer. He designed Kate Moss’s wedding dress and was subsequently photographed with the model for Vogue. He has also been working in the studio of Oscar de la Renta, his influence evident in the shapes and knotted belts seen on the label’s fall 2013 on runway in February.
Noah Pollak, executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, also seemed untroubled by Galliano’s burgeoning comeback. “The anti-Semitism the Jewish community tends to be concerned about today is the violent kind and the societal kind: terrorism against Jews and Israel, the anti-Semitism that is sadly so prevalent in Muslim countries and on the radical political left,” he wrote in an email. “A one-off rant by an eccentric fashion designer isn’t near the top of the list of threats to Jews today.”
Foxman had defended Galliano many times prior to the news of his Parsons gig. Last week he expressed outrage that the Israel Broadcasting Authority would bar Israel’s Eurovision contestant from wearing an outfit by Galliano for the broadcast. And in February, he also stood up for Galliano when New York’s tabloids made a fuss over photos of the designer walking around the city in a bizarre outfit that looked inspired by traditional Hasidic dress. Foxman told the Daily News at the time it was nothing to freak out over, just “John Galliano being John Galliano.”
The ADL seems to have been helping Galliano get his career back on track since he issued, in March of 2011, an official apology for the anti-Semitic rant that led to his firing from Dior. According to the New York Times, Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Condé Nast International Chairman Jonathan Newhouse made entreaties to the ADL and other Jewish leaders to support Galliano. (You can read all of the ADL’s official statements of support for Galliano on its website.)
“He apologized, he repaired, he reached out. We should just move on,” Foxman said. “I think that’s the fair thing to do. I’m delighted for Parsons. I’m delighted for him.”