John Galliano Apologizes for Behavior but Denies Claims of Anti-Semitism

John Galliano apologizes for behavior but denies claims of anti-Semitism.

March 2, 2011 — -- A day after being fired from his post as creative director for high fashion label Christian Dior, John Galliano apologized -- not for the anti-Semitic remarks he allegedly made at a Paris bar, but for "allowing myself to be seen to be behaving in the worst possible light."

"I fully accept that the accusations made against me have greatly shocked and upset people," Galliano said today in a statement released by his lawyers. "I only have myself to blame and I know that I must face up to my own failures and that I must work hard to gain people's understanding and compassion.

"I have fought my entire life against prejudice, intolerance and discrimination, having been subjected to it myself. In all my work my inspiration has been to unite people of every race, creed, religion and sexuality by celebrating their cultural and ethnic diversity through fashion," he said. "Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologize for my behavior in causing any offense."

Galliano also denied the claims filed by a Paris couple last week who said he verbally assaulted them La Perle, the same bar where he was seen on video in an anti-Semitic rant. He was suspended from his post at Dior on Friday after those allegations.

Today, Paris prosecutors said that Galliano will stand criminal trial over those alleged racial insults.

The designer swiftly fell from fashion's highest ranks after a video of his tirade appeared on the website of the British tabloid The Sun on Monday. In the video, Galliano declares to La Perle's patrons, "I love Hitler," says that "people like you would be dead," and "your mothers, your forefathers" would all be "gassed." It's unclear when the video was recorded.

Dior fired Galliano on Monday. In a statement, Dior's CEO, Sidney Toledano, said, "I unequivocally condemn the statements made by John Galliano which are in total contradiction to the longstanding core values of Christian Dior."

Since joining Dior in 1996, Galliano, 50, has used his provocative sense of style to push the luxury label to the top of the fashion heap. Celebrities covet his creations; Nicole Kidman and Sharon Stone wore Dior gowns to Sunday's Academy Awards.

At the moment, Natalie Portman serves as Dior's most prominent celebrity endorser -- she stars in the new ad campaign for Miss Dior Cherie perfume. Backstage at the Oscars Sunday, after winning the best actress award, Portman declined to talk about Galliano's suspension. But the following evening, she released a statement condemning the designer's alleged rants.

"I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano's comments that surfaced today," Portman said. "In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way. I hope at the very least, these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful."