A little over a week ago, John Galliano broke his silence following two years of rehab and self-examination with a pathos-laden interview in Vanity Fair. For many, it drove home just how much he has suffered and how hard he’s worked to make amends, as well as what a terrible state he was in at the time. But he didn’t stop there. Last night, Galliano appeared on Charlie Rose to discuss some of those same issues in his first video interview since his racial outburst.
Over the course of the hour-long interview (which you can watch all of here), Rose gives Galliano the chance to apologize out loud for all the world to hear, and he does:
Rose: You recognise that what you said was hateful, vile, anti-Semitic?
Galliano: I do. I apologise. And I am trying to make amends in the best way that I can.
And without excusing them, Galliano tries to explain his actions a bit, to tease out why that particular emotion came spewing forth from his alcohol-addled brain that night (self-hatred, addiction problems, doing research on an anti-Semite):
I was in a blackout … I’ve since discovered that one is a blackout drinker, what happens is that it can release paranoia of such a stage that it can trigger frustrations from childhood. And due to that, it can trigger a self-defense mechanism. Now, having had quite a tough time in school, and being subjected, persecuted, bullied, called all sorts of names, as children do, and living a lie, really, because I was gay but I couldn’t admit that at home, honestly I couldn’t escape.
Also, around the time of that event, I was heavily researching for my John Galliano menswear collection, which was inspired by the life of Rudolph Nureyev, who was an anti-Semite. When I research, I really go into it. Where does she live? Does she read by candlelight or gaslight, the color of her hair dye, the scent on her breath — is it gin? — the powder of her makeup; it helps me to create. It helps me to create a character… I’m living it, I’m breathing it. I’m not making excuses at all, but this is the work I’ve done since that event, to try and find out what happened.
Never one to shy away from difficult topics, Rose also asked Galliano his thoughts on Alexander McQueen’s suicide, and Galliano said he understood it:
Pretty dark stuff. But the interview was not 100% bummers. Here, Galliano makes the important point that creativity and mental problems do not have to go hand in hand, despite the mythology surrounding them:
It’s easy to call bullshit on someone’s printed words, but to watch Galliano sit there looking profoundly sad and uncomfortable, and to look into his eyes as he expresses remorse, makes it that much easier to believe what he is saying. Unless you’re a complete sociopath, you can’t fake that. I’m sure some people will never forgive him, but once again, I feel empathy for the man and believe he’s on the road to a genuine recovery. Racism isn’t going to go away just because we don’t talk about it, and that’s what Charlie Rose does best: fostering a productive dialogue.