Vanity Fair got the get that everyone wanted. In its July 2013 issue, arriving in mailboxes now, contributing editor Ingrid Sischy met with the designer several times in what amounted, he says, to the first interview he has given sober. Certainly it’s his first interview since his anti-Semitic remarks in 20111 that catalyzed mass outrage and his firing from Dior.
In the piece, Galliano in the Wilderness, he explains how alcohol and drug abuse, brought on by a grueling schedule, turned him into a monster. “I would use [alcohol] to crash after the collections,” he says. “I’d take a couple of days to get over it, like everyone. But with more collections, the crash happened more often, and then I was a slave to it. Then the pills kicked in because I couldn’t sleep. Then the other pills kicked in because I couldn’t stop shaking. I would also have these huge bottles of liquor that people got for me. Towards the end, it was whatever I could get my hands on.”
He describes in gruesome detail the lows he reached: “I did manage to stop the voices. I had all these voices in my head, asking so many questions, but I never for one second would admit I was an alcoholic. I thought I could control it … I would be backstage and there would be a queue of five people to help me. One person would have a cigarette for me. The next person would have the lighter. I did not know how to use the ATM.” It seems there was no end to his downward spiral. Ultimately, “not having washed, I’d be covered in sores and humiliated.”
On finding out about his racial slurs, he says, “When everyone came over to tell me that I had done these terrible things, I was walking round and round and round not really knowing what had gone down. My assistant told me about the video. When I saw it, I threw up. The feeling was like I was about to take a step out onto the street and a bus or truck whooshed past me and the blood was drained from my legs. I was paralyzed from the fear.”
In his Arizona rehab facility, staff confiscated pretty much everything he brought, including the Keith Richards memoir, Life. When he was allowed his a short phone call, he called Bill Gaytten, who had filled in for him at the John Galliano label, just before the Galliano fashion show began in Paris. “Bill said, ‘Do you realize what you’ve fucking done?’ and I said, ‘Kind of.’ But I still didn’t. I couldn’t say yes. I just couldn’t. And those were the last words we shared. That’s someone I’ve known for 30 years. Even now I’m still learning every day how many people I hurt.” When it came time for Galliano’s first visitors weekend, Linda Evangelista was the only friend to make the trek. “I just didn’t want that weekend to go by without anyone reaching out to him,” she told Sischy.