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john galliano
charlie sheen
creative genius
bad behaviour
two and a half men
John Galliano - The Fallen Star - Lessons To Be Learned
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I have to admit it, as a bit of a fashion fiend I have always loved John Galliano’s work. As a fashion designer he is undoubtedly one of the stars of his generation, but oh how that star has fallen over the past few months. Yesterday friends of John Galliano and no doubt his lawyer and the man himself breathed a sigh of relief when he wasn’t jailed after admitting making anti-Semitic insults in a Paris restaurant eight months ago. He was fortunate to get away with suspended fines of 6,000 euros (£5,250; $8,400) for his unpleasant verbal racist attacks.

Galliano’s drinking and drug problems were legendary and well known to colleagues who worked with him at Dior as well as others in the fashion industry. His eccentricities, bizarre and sometimes bad behaviour were either ignored or tolerated because he was widely acknowledged as a highly successful creative genius. When it was revealed in court that Galliano’s chauffeur was trained to call a lawyer whenever the arguments that he appears to have picked at random with unsuspecting members of the public got out of hand, you realise that he was lucky that he hadn’t landed himself in court before.

So what lessons can be learned from the Galliano story? Well there are three key issues that resonate with me.

1. Enabling poor behaviour hurts people

There are clear parallels in Galliano’s story with that of Charlie Sheen, the Hollywood actor who spectacularly went off the rails earlier this year. There were constant signs that Sheen was out of control and yet Fox executives put up with his unreliable behaviour because of the commercial success of Two and a Half Men. Eventually he pushed them too far and was summarily sacked. The Dior executives behaved in a similar way with Galliano and turned a blind eye to his behaviour until it became very public. Sadly in both cases the employers were acting as ‘enablers’ and by ignoring their employees behaviour enabled it to carry on. Employers should not enable people's bad behaviour. It hurts them and others.

2. Buying into people’s victimhood doesn’t help them

When the court case was over, Galliano’s lawyer said that his client had found the past eight months very difficult and as “looking forward to a future with understanding and forgiveness”, hoping to put everything behind him. Well good for Galliano. The subtext was clear. The public were being asked to feel sorry for him. We were being asked to accept that he had no recollection of what he said, that he is in no way racist and that he acted the way he did because the pressure of his jobhad led to drink and drug problems.

Well I’m sorry but I don’t want to buy into his victimhood and covertly condone his behaviour. Allowing people to wallow in their own victimhood is ultimately destructive. It doesn’t help them accept personal responsibility for what’s happened and they stay stuck in the same cycle of behaviour.

3. Accepting personal responsibility is key to moving forward

Galliano has blamed the pressure of work causing his drug and alcohol addictions and it’s been widely reported that as soon as he was first arrested he went to into rehab. Only Galliano knows whether he went into rehab really to conquer his demons or it was a tactic to escape the media furore and gain some public sympathy. One thing that is clear is Galliano’s problems were not new. No one forced alcohol down his throat or forced him to take medication – these were choices he made albeit in the grip of addiction. No one forced him to harangue innocent members of the public - he made that choice. And if he really couldn’t cope with the stress of his job then it was within his power to do something about it..

However, sympathetic one is for Galliano there’s a clear lesson here. The only way you can move forward from a difficult situations is to acknowledge the personal responsibility you have in what has happened. If you believe that none of it was your fault and everything was done to you, you will never move on and learn how to stop making the same mistakes.


So what does the future hold for John Galliano the fallen star? Will his star rise once again in the fashion industry? Certainly his gift for design hasn't dimmed. His most recent work was the exquisite dress Kate Moss wore on her wedding day, but whether other famous friends and influential industry insiders will overlook his past and welcome him back into the fold, only time will tell. But I hope for his own sake Galliano has conquered his demons, really has taken responsibility for his own actions, gets any further help he needs, learns how to cope with stress and forgets about seeing himself as a victim.

Street Talk

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