I am Jewish.
When I first heard the horrific anti-semitic remarks of John Galliano in 2011, who at the time was creative director of both Christian Dior and his namesake house, I was completely shocked. Angry. Horrified. That someone of that stature could use his words to assault my entire belief system and religion was pretty disturbing.
I appreciated the strong stance Dior took on the incident by immediately firing him. The fashion industry was unanimous in denouncing his actions. But two short years later, that same industry was so quick to forgive and forget. Headlines read: John Galliano to Design with Oscar de la Renta. John Galliano to Teach Course at Parsons. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. My brain started exploding with angry questions and accusations.Why is this okay?! Why are we so ready to acquit John Galliano of his destructive words? What kind of statement are we making by bringing him back into the fold? What standard are we setting by condoning such ugly actions? Why should we forgive such hurtful anti-semitic behavior, just like that? I was livid.
And then I watched his interview with Charlie Rose.
To see a man who had accomplished so much in his life only to see it crash and burn, stand before the public and humbly take responsibility for his actions, respectfully open up fresh wounds and share his most painful experiences in an effort to give a sincere apology was incredibly humbling. This was no act. His pain, sorrow and anguish for the man he had become at his lowest and the recognition of the journey he still has to go really touched me. Exposing the realities of his addictions was raw and honest and I respect him for that. He owned up to his ugly actions and admitted there was no excuse for his despicable behavior. He seems to have come a long way.
What really touched me was the point in the interview when Galliano starts talking about fashion. His entire body language changes. His face lights up and you can see his palpable passion for his craft. He describes his experience with the ateliers at Dior and what it meant to him to be given a second chance by Oscar de la Renta, and it is undeniable that this man was born to design.
After seeing the interview in it’s entirety and reading his piece in Vanity Fair my opinion on the subject has changed drastically. I was able to see and understand the man behind the scandalous headlines. He made a mistake. A really despicable one. One that we can now choose to view through a lens of insult and defense or compassion and forgiveness. He's apologized profusely, owned up to his repulsive behavior, taken action to correct himself and seems to want, more than anything, a second chance. What is the point of life if not to learn and grow from our mistakes? Rabbi Marcus, of London’s Central Synogogue, quoted in the Vanity Fair interview said it best. “As a Jew and as a rabbi, if anybody makes a mistake—and we all make mistakes—built into Judaism is the concept of giving a person another chance, or forgiving. So much of who we are and how we operate as human beings is built on that very principle.”
I encourage you to watch the full interview to get a better picture and would love to hear your thoughts, reactions, opinions and all that fun stuff.