GALLIANO ON THE RECORD: On Thursday, the July issue of Vanity Fair will hit newsstands and inside is John Galliano’s first lengthy interview since his ouster from Dior. The article, “Galliano in the Wilderness,” is by contributing editor Ingrid Sischy, as WWD reported earlier this month.
Several major news organizations had been jockeying to land the first interview with the disgraced designer. Sischy, who knows Galliano professionally after 20 years of attending his shows, first reached out to him to discuss the profile in February 2011, in the early days following his dismissal from Dior. Through some of the few people who were in touch with him, she delivered a message that Vanity Fair wanted to do a story about the saga with his cooperation.
“It was important to tell it the right way, and by the right way I mean with the cooperation of the person the story was about. It seemed to us that done the right way it could be a story that mattered,” Sischy said. “This isn’t just a story of a designer. It’s a story of successful people who run into trouble. It mattered to the magazine the story was told with John’s cooperation.”
Galliano seemed open to the idea, but said it was too early to make a commitment.
Vanity Fair was persistent. In March 2011, editor in chief Graydon Carter followed up with Galliano while he was in rehab and the two had a phone conversation. The designer again said the interview would have to wait until the right time, “when John felt he had been on the journey for long enough,” Sischy explained.
She kept an eye on Galliano as his story unfolded for the next couple of years, occasionally checking in with him. They again connected in February of this year while Galliano made his first return to the fashion world, serving what would become a controversial tenure as “designer in residence” in the studio of Oscar de la Renta. The two had an informal dinner in New York’s West Village. After that, the profile was put into motion and Sischy spent several months interviewing Galliano at his home in Paris, as well as his supporters and high-profile figures in the Jewish community. In the far-ranging, nearly 8,000-word profile, which will also run in Vanity Fair UK, Galliano again profusely apologizes for his behavior and attributes his outburst to alcoholism and an addiction to pills. Friends and LVMH executives tried to stage interventions, but Galliano refused to acknowledge his problems. According to the article, when Bernard Arnault confronted him, Galliano tore off his shirt to show off his ripped body, and said, “Does this look like the body of an alcoholic?” Rehab at an Arizona facility was a difficult period — he was not allowed to bring a copy of Keith Richards’ memoir, “Life,” or many phone calls, though apparently Vanity Fair occasionally snuck in. Galliano tells Sischy that rehab had a dramatic effect on him.
“I have rediscovered that little boy who had the hunger to create, which I think I had lost. I am alive,” he told the magazine.
He was photographed by Annie Leibovitz at Sawkill Falls in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.
Sischy said Galliano’s handlers did not set any conditions for the interviews or time limitations. They did not want a Lance Armstrong situation on their hands. “I had total carte blanche,” she said.
Sischy explained her mind-set before she sat down with Galliano. “When you begin a story, your instinct leads you into the person. You don’t have any preset plans. It’s when you’re there and fully present that the story writes itself. You have to go in open and prepared to think this person’s really, really sorry, or he’s really doing this work, or this person’s doing a media thing,” she said.
Sischy, anyway, was moved by the designer. “It’s a good red flag when someone isn’t genuine, your stomach kind of tells you. My stomach was saying, ‘This is the real thing,’” she said.
In the piece, she concludes, “My prediction: Get ready for his second act.”
No word yet from Galliano’s publicist on his plans for a television appearance.