Low Blow

02.13.13

John Galliano Is Called a ‘Shmuck’ for Outfit That Allegedly Mocks Hasidic Jews

The New York Post took the disgraced designer to task on Wednesday for mocking Hasidic dress—and went a little too far.

On Tuesday afternoon, John Galliano emerged from a townhouse wearing a black hat and a long coat on his way to the Oscar de la Renta show. On Wednesday morning, one newspaper had called it an affront to Jewish culture.

“Shmuck!” read the cover of the New York Post, along with a lengthy story about how the designer (who was fired from Dior for anti-Semitic rants)  had “mocked” Hasidic Jews with his hat, long dark coat, and “peyos.” Under a headline reading JEW-BASH DESIGNER’S COSTUME MOCKS FAITHFUL, the article goes on to quote “stunned New York Jewish leaders” expressing outrage at the designer’s outfit.

What the Post failed to mention, however, is that Galliano wears this kind of thing all the time—and it has nothing to do with Jewish faith. The designer is known for his flamboyant style, and—though it wasn’t adequately pictured on the front of the newspaper this morning—paired the hat and coat with pinstripe pants, a vest, and an ascot. His “peyos” were actually curls that went around his entire head, a style he wears often. This was not a personal attempt at offending the religious group—and it shouldn’t be seen as one. (Liz Rosenberg, Galliano’s publicist, told the Post: “Your accusations are not at all correct.”)

The Anti-Defamation League has come to the designer’s defense. “The New York Post story is a ridiculous, absurd distortion,” Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL said in a statement. “There is no truth to their accusation that John Galliano was dressed in Hasidic garb, and anyone familiar with the dress of traditional Orthodox Jews should not mistake what Galliano is wearing in the photograph as Hasidic garb … Hasidim do not wear fedora hats, pinstripe pants, blue jackets or an ascot tie …This is John Galliano being John Galliano. His dress is always eccentric and his hair is always worn long … This is, at the very least, ignorance on the part of the reporters and editors at the Post, or, at worst, a deliberate, malicious distortion in an effort to sell newspapers.”

“I stand by the story, we have people quoted in the story and that’s their view,” said Dan Seifman, one of the writers on the Post piece. Three New York Jewish “leaders” were quoted in the Post including Williamsburg’s Isaac Abraham. “He’s trying to embarrass people in the Jewish community and make money on clothes [while] dressed like people he has insulted,” Abraham told the Post. “It looks like the hairstyle he added was done purposely to insult.”

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John Galliano leaves an apartment in Manhattan on February 12, 2013. (Splash News)

The story is poorly timed for Galliano, who has been mounting a slow comeback in the fashion world since he was ousted from Dior and a stint in rehab.  Tuesday marked the culmination of a three-week apprenticeship with Oscar de la Renta, where he worked alongside the designer to produce a stunning fall collection that combined both of their styles.

But Galliano’s future with de la Renta remains an open question. In an interview with New York magazine earlier this week, de la Renta said: “I would love for him to stay … Will he? I cannot tell you that today. Because we haven’t gone that far in discussing it … so the answer is, we don’t know. We’re still exploring.” After his show, de la Renta told reporters that the collaboration was “a lot of fun.” Let’s hope Oscar de la Renta and his PR team aren’t put off by the bad buzz.