John Galliano sat down for a frank, no-holds-barred conversation on the Charlie Rose show. Here are seven of his most revealing quotes.
John Galliano has been sober for two years and three months now – but he’s only just started to step back into the public eye. The disgraced ex-designer spoke frankly to American presenter Charlie Rose about his demons and attempts to make amends for what he’s done.
It’s an eye-opening look into addiction and how the demands of the industry drove him to drink and drugs. There’s something sad about watching how Galliano’s eyes light up when he starts to talk about his craft and the process of designing – it’s obvious he still adores fashion.
Galliano seems to accept that the industry might not re-embrace him whole-heartedly anytime soon. But at the very least, he seems to have gained a level of peace and self-acceptance that eluded him before.
Here’s what we learnt from the hour-long interview. Above is an excerpt, and you can watch the whole interview at charlierose.com.
1. Galliano just couldn’t say no, which is where the problem began
“In the early days I was incredibly creative and productive – I loved the research trips, I loved the creation and finding technical solutions to creative challenges. I didn’t need alcohol and the pills for that. What changed was, I was afraid to say no – that little word, N.O. – because I thought it showed weakness. And with more and more success, I would just say yes. And keep on taking more work on, which took its toll.”
2. And when he means “more work”, he means a lot more work
“At that moment, I was producing 32 collections a year, between Galliano and Dior. Each collection would comprise of a thousand pieces.”
3. A vicious cycle emerged…
“I thought that was the right way to deal with it. By then I was a slave to alcohol. I would take the valium to stop the shaking so I could do the fittings, and the sleeping pills so I could sleep. My life became unmanageable.”
4. So he knows what Alexander McQueen went through
“I knew Alexander – I knew Lee. I understood. That loneliness, that pain. I mean as addicts we’re in such perfection – we’re setting that bar impossibly high, we don’t understand how we’re doing it and people say, ‘Wow, how are you going to top that?’ And we’re like, ‘Well yeah we’re going to, don’t worry.’ That’s what makes us wake up in the morning. I was very sad [about McQueen’s death].”
5. Galliano’s in a much better place now, though
“I’m so grateful that I am alive – not for what happened, but as a result of what happened, I have been able to spend some time on myself, understand these emotions that I couldn’t express – the difference between emotions and feelings and how I could change that. Before, I would be upset or angry and it would go on for four days or five days. Now I know that I can change that. I wasn’t aware of that before. I was emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally bankrupt. I didn’t know it, but I had a very big breakdown.”
6. Although he did have a panic attack before he visited Oscar de la Renta’s studio
“I ran to the bathroom, threw myself on my knees and said the Serenity Prayer and I went into the workroom and introduced myself to the tailors, the seamstresses in their white coats – and then it was fine. […] And then this creativity… it just came back when I saw the [model] walk in in partially draped fabric. It was just an amazing feeling that I thought I’d never feel it again.
7. He wants a second chance
“I’m trying to make amends. I have upset many people. I need to reach out them… I hope through my atonement I will be given a second chance.”
8. Moral of the story? Stay sober, kids
“I will be in recovery for the rest of my life. I bear that tattoo on my soul forever – which is a constant reminder of the evil of drink and drugs, both of which you can buy over a counter in Europe.”