By Masha MacPherson
The Associated Press
PARIS (AP) — Famed fashion designer John Galliano raged against a couple at a Paris cafe with threats, expletives, and a remark referring to the man’s alleged Asian background, a witness said Saturday, Feb. 26.
Details and a new video of the British-born designer moments after the cafe melee emerged a day after Christian Dior SA suspended him from his post as creative director at Dior fashion house.
The case puts a question mark over one of fashion’s biggest-name houses and the designer, who is widely regarded as one of the most brilliant of his generation and has brought youth and freshness to Dior.
The suspension, coming nearly a week before Dior’s fall/winter 2011–2012 ready-to-wear show in Paris, stemmed from accusations that Galliano made an anti-Semitic insult during the spat Thursday.
He has denied any wrongdoing, and objects to the suspension.
Witness Marion Bully said she sat nearby at La Perle cafe in the Marais district, and her first star-struck reaction was “Whoa” after seeing Galliano sitting alone at a table with a mojito.
Then she noticed his dispute with the couple.
“There seemed to be a tense atmosphere, and then I realized John Galliano was speaking to the woman and telling her things that were pretty disagreeable,” Bully told Associated Press Television News in an interview at her apartment in northeast Paris. “We heard him say, ‘You are really ugly.’ ”
At one point, after Galliano had repeatedly insulted the woman, “the man picked up a chair and threatened to throw the chair at him,” she added.
“At this point, John Galliano started getting really aggressive,” she said, quoting the designer as saying, “ ‘Now, don’t touch me!’ ” and referring to the man’s alleged Asian background with a string of expletives.
The video, obtained by Associated Press Television News, showed Galliano at the scene, being guided back to his seat by what appeared to be a security guard. A man in the video was complaining about Galliano’s behavior.
Paris prosecutors said Friday that police questioned and released the designer after the couple accused him of making an anti-Semitic comment at them. Prosecutors and police said Galliano’s blood alcohol levels were high.
Making anti-Semitic remarks is illegal in France, and can bring up to six months in prison. Some public figures have been convicted on such charges in the past, but are usually given suspended sentences.
Bully said she didn’t hear Galliano make any anti-Semitic remarks, and said she could not corroborate a comment by a police official on Friday that the designer had exchanged slaps with the couple.
Galliano lawyer Stephane Zerbib said in an APTN interview that the designer filed a complaint against the couple for alleged defamation, threats, and insults.
Christian Dior said Galliano’s suspension would remain in effect pending an investigation. ♦