John Galliano, the flamboyant fashion designer known for his over-the-top runway collections, romanticism and love of the bias cut and who until earlier this year helmed the venerable Christian Dior luxury label and his own namesake line, was found guilty today of "public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity," the Associated Press reported.
Under French law, Galliano could have faced up to six months in prison and a fine up to $31,622, but the designer, who wasn't in the Paris courtroom when the verdict was announced, won't be required to serve any jail time; the totality of his sentence is a suspended fine of $8,432, which according to the AP, means that although it goes on his criminal record, he is not required to pay it.
The AP quoted the judge in the case as saying Galliano had "sufficient awareness of his act despite his addiction and his fragile state," but that the court took Galliano's apology to the plaintiffs into account and noted the "values of tolerance" in the designer's work.
It's the latest chapter in a scandal that has been roiling the fashion world since March, and the verdict was announced just as New York Fashion Week runway shows were getting underway across the Atlantic.
Many of the key events in the saga have been framed by the global fashion week calendar. News of the original accusations came on the eve of the Paris ready-to-wear shows in March 2011, when Galliano was arrested in the Paris bar La Perle, accused of hurling anti-Semitic insults at a nearby couple in an alleged violation of French laws designed to curb anti-Semitism.
Dior, where he'd worked for nearly 15 years, suspended him the next day, pending investigation. After another woman came forward with a similar complaint and, later, a video surfaced that appeared to depict a similar incident involving the designer (In it, he appeared to be drunk and taunting two off-screen women, saying he "loved Hitler" and that their ancestors should be "gassed ... and dead.") Galliano was terminated from his role as creative director at the Dior and John Galliano labels.
His one-day trial took place in a Paris courtroom in June -- in the midst of the Paris men's runway shows and two days before his eponymous line hit the catwalk with new creative director Bill Gaytten taking the final bow.
-- Adam Tschorn
Photo: Lawyer Aurelien Hamelle, center, who represents fashion designer John Galliano, speaks to the media after the verdict in Galliano's trial in Paris. Credit: Reuters