School's Out

05.08.13

Parsons Cancels John Galliano's Master Class Series

The esteemed fashion school has cancelled the course due to curricular disagreements with the disgraced designer.
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British designer John Galliano acknowledges the public after the Christian Dior Spring-Summer 2011 Haute Couture Collection Show on January 24, 2011, in Paris. (Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty )

On Tuesday evening, news broke of another setback in John Galliano’s mounting comeback. Last month it was announced that the disgraced designer, who’s 2011 anti-Semitic rant had him fired from the helm of Christian Dior as well as his own namesake label, would teach a master class series at Parsons: The New School for Design called “Show Me Emotion.” Now, Parsons has cancelled the three-day course. 

Confirming the news to The Daily Beast on Wednesday morning, a spokesperson for Parsons issued the following statement: “An important element of the planned workshop with John Galliano was a candid conversation about the connection between his professional work and his actions in the world at large. Unfortunately, we could not reach a consensus with Mr. Galliano on the conditions of this conversation, and the program could not move forward.”

Students at Parsons received word of Galliano’s retracted academic appointment on Tuesday via an internal email written by New School president Daid E. Van Zandt. That email, which a student quickly leaked to industry news blog Fashionista, delves into greater detail about Parsons’ reasons for dropping the course. Zandt writes: “a critical element of a New School education is the connection between creative and intellection invention and an individual’s actions in the world at large. While we understand the pressures that Mr. Galliano faces, we expected to invite students, faculty and staff to ask Mr. Galliano how is trajectory as a designer was changed by his offensive remarks and to learn from that example. We continue to believe there is room at Parsons to explore Mr. Galliano’s efforts to make amends for his actions…it is certain this would not have been an easy or comfortable conversation but our mission is to provide uncommon learning opportunities…”

News of Galliano’s academic appointment did not come without controversy. Shortly after the “Show Me Emotion” course was announced to students, a petition against the course was filed on Change.org. Published anonymously, its author wrote: “Hiring someone who has made such horrific comments shows that the school values Galliano over their entire Jewish community…We do not want money from our tuition going to this kind of person. We feel like we’ve been slapped in the face by our school.”

It’s unknown if the petition, which has accrued over 2,100 signatures since April 23, was the cause of Parsons’ disagreements with Galliano. Or if it influenced the school’s decision to drop his course. Regardless, it is quietly referenced in Zandt’s address to students.  “Over the last several weeks, many members of the university community wrote to express their views about this visit. Regardless of your opinion, you remind us all that it is our commitment to debate, and our willingness to support the possibility of change, that makes Parsons and The New School such an extraordinary place to learn.”

A rep for Galliano didn't respond immediately to our request for comment.