There's much to be said about John Galliano and his return to fashion.
Fashion industry leaders, like Anna Wintour and Oscar de la Renta are all for it (it was Wintour, after all, who asked de la Renta to host Galliano in his studio). A select few members of New York's Jewish community quoted in yesterday's reactionary New York Post story, are against it. But whatever camp you fall into, there's certainly a lot to discuss--and that's precisely what top fashion writers like WWD's Bridget Foley, the International Herald Tribune's Suzy Menkes and the New York Times's Eric Wilson have done today.
First, let's start with Foley. Like us, Foley thought the New York Post's piece lambasting Galliano for wearing 'Hasidic garb' was over the top and out of line. Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, agrees.
"Anyone familiar with the dress of traditional Orthodox Jews should not mistake what Galliano is wearing in the photograph as ‘Hasidic garb,’” Foley quotes Foxman as writing on the ADL's website. “Hasidim do not wear fedora hats, pinstripe pants, blue jackets or an ascot tie.”
Galliano's spokesperson Liz Rosenberg (most likely a Jew!), also went on the record to say that Galliano was not intending to evoke or mock Hasidic dress in any way. She wrote in a statement to Foley:
"As you well know, John has worn big hats and long coats for many, many years. He indeed has long curly hair, and I can understand people/the NY Post misinterpreting his look at the show. But I can assure you there was no intent to dress in a Hasidic style, to present himself as an homage to the Hasidic community or to insult the Jewish culture or pay tribute to people in 17th century Poland on John’s part--consciously or unconsciously. His attire included a Steven Jones hat, Yohji Yamamoto trousers, Brooks Brothers shirt, Dolce & Gabbana vest. In other words--fashionable. The last thing on John’s mind would be to do anything that would offend the Jewish community.”
According to Wilson's piece in the Times, Galliano can count more than just Foley in his roster of powerful defenders: Both Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington have met privately with the designer to "express their support." Wintour, along with Jonathan Newhouse, the chairman of Condé Nast International, have also apparently been making appeals to Jewish leaders on Galliano's behalf, including rabbis and the Anti-Defamation League.
Still, some long time de la Renta customers were not pleased to find out he was working with Galliano. The Times is reporting that several of de la Renta's Jewish customers and retailers complained privately to the designer.
“As a Jew, I felt very upset about it,” Sandy Schreier, one of the world’s biggest collectors of couture fashion, told the Times.
Foley said that retailers declined to comment on if they would welcome Galliano back to the fold, though "one noted that the evaluation of the customers’ mind-set would be an essential part of deciding whether to buy a future Galliano collection."
Indeed the question worth asking about Galliano, it seems, isn't whether the fashion industry will have him back (it seems it will) but whether or not the rest of the world will. After all, they'll be the ones buying the clothes--or not.