PARIS — Former Dior designer John Galliano took the stand Wednesday and testified that he remembers nothing about allegedly using anti-Semitic slurs at a Paris cafe due to his “triple addiction” to alcohol, barbiturates and sleeping pills.
Mr. Galliano, however, apologized for spouting an anti-Semitic diatribe in a separate incident captured in video, posted on the Internet and shown to the court, saying these are not his views but reflect instead “the shell of John Galliano … someone who needs help.”
Charges that the outspoken British designer insulted several patrons of a Paris cafe with anti-Semitic remarks shocked the fashion world and cost Mr. Galliano his job at the renowned French high-fashion house.
Mr. Galliano’s appearance at the one-day trial put him in the public eye for the first time in months. In a conservative look for him, Mr. Galliano was dressed in black with a polka dot neckerchief, sporting a pencil mustache and long hair.
The 50-year-old designer is charged with “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity” and could face up to six months in prison and up to $32,175 in fines. The verdict is expected at a later date. French law prohibits public insults toward others because of their origins, race or religion.
Journalists, including fashion writers, packed the wooden benches in the paneled, gilded courtroom, which features a high ceiling painted with a woman holding the scales of justice. Television cameras were not allowed but zoomed in on Mr. Galliano as he went inside.
The famed designer was escorted to a front-row seat at the Justice Palace courtroom, sitting next to an interpreter as he faced the three judges who will decide his fate.
Presiding Judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud asked about the evening of Feb. 24, when Mr. Galliano allegedly derided a couple with anti-Semitic insults.
Mr. Galliano repeatedly said he remembered nothing.
“I have a triple addiction. I’m a recovering alcoholic and a recovering addict,” he said when asked why his memory was blank. He said he started drinking in 2007 and became addicted to alcohol, barbiturates and sleeping pills.
After his detention by police in February, Mr. Galliano said he underwent rehabilitation treatment in Arizona for two months and also in Switzerland.
“After every creative high, I would crash, and the alcohol helped me,” he said, adding that his creativity “helped make Dior a billion-dollar business.”
Asked why he didn’t tell police investigators about his addictions, Mr. Galliano responded: “I was in denial. I was still taking those pills and alcohol, and I was in complete denial.”
A couple contends that Mr. Galliano made anti-Semitic comments to them in the cafe in February. Mr. Galliano was taken in by police for questioning, and a sobriety test showed he was drunk. Another woman then came forward with similar claims about another incident in the same cafe in October. Both accusations were being addressed at Wednesday’s trial.
Days after the February incident, a video was broadcast on the website of the British tabloid The Sun showing an inebriated Galliano insulting a fellow cafe client, slurring: “I love Hitler.”