February 25, 2011 11:53 pm

Dior suspends its star designer

John Galliano, the British fashion talent, has been suspended from Christian Dior Couture after hurling insults at a couple during a drunken incident in a Paris café.

Just days before the Paris women’s ready-to-wear shows, Dior said that it had suspended its star designer pending the outcome of a police inquiry after the couple filed a complaint.

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Vanessa Friedman

Christian Dior, as well as owning the couture business for which Mr Galliano designs, owns a 45 per cent stake in LVMH, the luxury goods group.

Sidney Toledano, Dior chief executive, said: “Dior affirms with the utmost conviction its policy of zero tolerance towards any anti-Semitic or racist words or behaviour.” Mr Galliano’s lawyer denied his client had used racists insults, telling AFP news agency: “There was a disturbance; but at no point did Mr Galliano hurl such insults.”

Mr Galliano, who took over from Gianfranco Ferré as creative designer of Dior in 1996, is credited with having rejuvenated the Dior brand.

Analysts were divided on the impact of his suspension.

Luca Solca at Bernstein Research said: “If the issue is resolved soon, this should not have much of an impact. The outcome of the investigation is important, though, to see if John Galliano can go back to being the architect of Dior creativity.”

Antoine Belge at HSBC said: “As we saw at Gucci, when designer Tom Ford left, the brand is often stronger than the designer. For money making products like handbags, design is often a team effort involving several designers as well as top management.”

Mr Galliano created buzz and excitement via dramatic shows and his own dramatic, ever-changing personal appearance. Recently, though, the death of his long-time right hand Steven Robinson, and rumours about his own overwork – apart from Dior, he maintained his own eponymous line, and a men’s wear line – suggested this model may no longer be seen as ideal.

He is still seen in the fashion world as an icon: the last of the great, aesthetic-obsessives, a relic of the pre-Tom Ford, designer-as-businessman era.

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