Like most businesses, fashion tends to gloss over whatever moral and ethical quandaries that might be encountered on the road to aesthetic fabulousness. The use of animal fur, the health and employment rights of models and garment workers, and the absence of women of color not only from magazine pages, but also from the upper echelons of the corporate fashion world are just a few of the matters that industry bigwigs would rather weren’t discussed.
But when John Galliano, Dior’s top creative mind and one of the richest designers in the world, was hauled to jail for an anti-Semitic attack on a couple at a Paris cafÃ©, the fashion world was too shocked to let it slide. When a video of a second verbal attack emerged, in the grand French tradition, it was off with Galliano’s head. With Galliano’s Spring 2011 Dior collection just hitting stores and Fall 2011 to come later in the year, that puts fashion lovers in an odd spot: If you love the work but disapprove of the man behind it, do you still buy the bags?
It’s impossible to know what the exact stipulations of John Galliano’s PPR contract were, but most high-dollar employment agreements in any industry include some sort of clause that relieves the employer of having to pay any sort of contract buyout or separation fee if the employee acts in a way that seriously jeopardizes the company’s public image or reputation. Galliano’s actions are almost certainly an example of something that would fall into that category. So if we’re working under the assumption that Galliano has received his last paycheck for his work at Dior and further purchases from the brand will not benefit him financially in any way, does that affect your opinion?
Or perhaps the problem is more of a moral one. Does the support of a man’s work indicate support of the man himself when everyone knows what kind of man he is, even if there’s no direct financial correlation? I find myself vacillating between the two options. Dior Spring 2011 and bags like the Dior Lady Dior Tie-Dye Tote are some of the brand’s best accessories work since the heyday of the Dior Saddle Bag, and Dior’s corporate team did the right thing by immediately terminating Galliano upon release of the damning video evidence. And in the fashion industry, head designers of huge labels aren’t usually the people who design and develop the accessories.
But still, whenever I see a Dior piece these days, I feel a little twinge. That gut reaction may not be fair, but gut-level responses are never predicated on a fair and nuanced evaluation of the situation at hand. It might just be enough to keep my from buying one of Dior’s bags until a new creative director’s work debuts, though. Will it stop you? If not, you can buy this Lady Dior through Neiman Marcus for $3100.