Fallen star Galliano to Paris court over 'racist tirades'
PARIS, France - John Galliano faces charges in a French court on Wednesday that he launched racist tirades at a Paris bar, which the fallen superstar designer will blame on drug and alcohol addiction.
If found guilty, the 50-year-old couturier -- considered one of the finest fashion designers of his generation -- could face a sentence of six months in jail and a fine of 22,500 euros ($32,000).
Ever since the flamboyant designer's spectacular fall from grace that saw him sacked from Dior in March after a total of three alleged outbursts came to light, Galliano has "been doing nothing," said his lawyer Aurelien Hamelle.
"He's treating his addiction to alcohol and medication. He will think about his professional future" after the trial, said Hamelle, who has replaced his former lawyer Stephane Zerbib after Galliano accused him of embezzlement.
The British designer was arrested on February 24 in a drunken state after a couple in a cafe in Paris' fashionable and historically Jewish Marais district alleged he had subjected them to a stream of anti-Semitic abuse.
Another woman then came forward to say she suffered a similar attack in October last year and then a video surfaced of Galliano insulting someone else in the same bar and declaring "I love Hitler."
Galliano has issued an apology for his behavior, but insisted it was not anti-Semitic. He has lodged a counter-complaint against the couple in the first incident, alleging defamation.
But in the footage published online by Britain's Sun newspaper, a visibly drunk Galliano tells another couple, in the same Paris bar, La Perle, "I love Hitler".
He adds: "People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be f__king gassed."
Asked where he is from, Galliano replies: "Your arsehole."
The release of the video prompted fashion house Dior to sack their star designer, saying his behavior and language was "particularly odious" and sending shockwaves through Paris' tightly-knit fashion world.
"This video, where he even looks a little strange to himself, gave him a shock," said Hamelle.
Galliano has already said that he will attend the trial, as will hundreds of the world's media.
Five people are expected to testify, including two girls who were sat next to him during the February 24 altercation who say they did not hear him say anything anti-Semitic.
However, two Italian friends of the woman who was allegedly insulted by Galliano last year are set to confirm her version of events.
For Galliano's lawyer, the varying testimonies show that there's some doubt about what was actually said.
Galliano himself "does not remember because he was in an altered state," said Hamelle. What he knows is that his alleged insults "do not reflect what he thinks. He's not anti-Semitic or racist."