Parsons Cancels John Galliano Workshop

It looks like John Galliano's teaching career is over even before it began. According to an email sent to New School students (which was forwarded to us), Parsons has cancelled Galliano's workshop.
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Hayley Phelan
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It looks like John Galliano's teaching career is over even before it began. According to an email sent to New School students (which was forwarded to us), Parsons has cancelled Galliano's workshop.
Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

It looks like John Galliano's teaching career is over even before it began.

According to an email sent to New School students (which was forwarded to us), Parsons has cancelled Galliano's workshop.

"It was a condition of our agreeing to host Mr. Galliano that we also hold a larger forum, which would include a frank discussion of his career," the email states. "Ultimately, an agreement could not be reached with Mr. Galliano regarding the details of that forum, and so the program will not move forward."

When the three-day master class was announced at the end of April, it was described as "a dynamic and intimate opportunity for students to learn from an immensely talented designer," and "engage in a frank conversation with Mr. Galliano about the challenges and complications of leading a design house in the 21st century." Now it sounds like Galliano had second thoughts about how frank he would be.

Following the announcement of the course, an online petition circulated which demanded Parsons drop Galliano as a teacher. That petition currently has over 2,000 signatures. Despite that petition, and the flurry of news stories covering Galliano's new gig at Parsons (some of them negative), the school remained, until now, committed to hosting Galliano. Joel Towers, Executive Dean of Parsons, sent out a letter to students on April 26 stating that while he agreed there was "no place for anti-Semitism or any other form of hate" on the Parsons campus he felt Galliano's master class would allow students to "learn from positive and negative examples."

"To confront hate we must challenge it in the light of day and with reason and education," he wrote. "Universities must be places where we can engage these issues so that they don’t reside underground, where they fester and ultimately become far more dangerous. I believe our students can learn from Mr. Galliano’s successes as well as his failures... Finally, I believe this workshop has value for our students because I believe education is, at its core, about the possibility of change, of engaged learning, and of personal growth."

Parsons is singing a different tune now. A rep from the school has confirmed the master class has been cancelled.

Read the full letter sent to students:

To the Parsons community:

We are writing to follow-up on messages we shared with you on April 26 about the planned workshop with John Galliano. It was a condition of our agreeing to host Mr. Galliano that we also hold a larger forum, which would include a frank discussion of his career. Ultimately, an agreement could not be reached with Mr. Galliano regarding the details of that forum, and so the program will not move forward.

As we have expressed over the past weeks, a critical element of a New School education is the connection between creative and intellectual invention and an individual’s actions in the world at large. While we understand the pressures Mr. Galliano faces, we expected to invite students, faculty and staff to ask Mr. Galliano how his trajectory as a designer was changed by his offensive remarks and to learn from that example.

We continue to believe there is room at Parsons to explore Mr. Galliano’s efforts to make amends for his actions and that members of our community will decide for themselves how to view his contributions. It is certain this would not have been an easy or comfortable conversation but our mission is to provide uncommon learning opportunities that transcend the boundaries of the disciplines. We apologize to those students who anticipated participating in the workshop and to all those who looked forward to engaging Mr. Galliano in discussion.

Over the last several weeks, many members of the university community wrote to express their views about this visit. Regardless of your opinion, you remind us all that it is our commitment to debate, and our willingness to support the possibility of change, that makes Parsons and The New School such an extraordinary place to learn.

Sincerely,

David E. Van Zandt, President