John Galliano has spoken for the first time about the crippling horrors of the alcohol and drug addictions that led to his widely-documented anti-Semitic comments in February 2011. In an in-depth interview with Vanity Fair, he described how his addictions developed due to the pressures of his jobs at both Dior and John Galliano, where he was creative director.
"I never drank in order to be creative, or to do the research," said Galliano. "I didn't need alcohol for any of that. At first alcohol was like a crutch outside of Dior. Then I would use it to crash after the collections. I'd take a couple of days to get over it, like everyone. But with more collections, the crash happened more often, and then I was a slave to it. Then the pills kicked in because I couldn't sleep. Then the other pills kicked in because I couldn't stop shaking. I would also have these huge bottles of liquor that people got for me. Towards the end, it was whatever I could get my hands on. Vodka, or vodka-and-tonic. Wine, in the belief it would help me sleep. Wrong. I did manage to stop the voices. I had all these voices in my head, asking so many questions, but I never for one second would admit I was an alcoholic. I thought I could control it."
Galliano described how his downfall led him to become increasingly reliant on those around him.
"What had started as self-expression turned into a mask," he said. "I lived in a bubble. I would be backstage and there would be a queue of five people to help me. One person would have a cigarette for me. The next person would have the lighter. I did not know how to use the ATM."
Despite his attempts, he couldn't stop his destructive behaviour. Both Dior CEO Sidney Toledano and LVMH boss Bernard Arnault tried to intervene - telling the designer that he would die if he didn't change his lifestyle. Galliano responded by removing his shirt to reveal a gym-honed torso, asking, "Does this look like the body of an alcoholic?"
"Not having washed, I'd be covered in sores and humiliated," he said of his deterioration. "I had the tremors. I wouldn't sleep for five days. I would go to bookstores and get some self-help books, but I was in denial. I'd throw myself back into the gym. I'd be careful about what I ate. And, of course, the whole cycle would start again."
He has little recollection of the ill-fated incident in the Paris café that led to his Dior dismissal, where his anti-Semitic remarks ("the worst thing I have ever said in my life") to two young women were recorded on a mobile phone.
"When everyone came over to tell me that I had done these terrible things, I was walking round and round and round not really knowing what had gone down," he recalled. "My assistant told me about the video. When I saw it, I threw up. The feeling was like I was about to take a step out onto the street and a bus or truck whooshed past me and the blood was drained from my legs. I was paralysed from the fear. I have been trying to find out why that anger was directed at this race. I now realise I was so f***ing angry and so discontented with myself that I just said the most spiteful thing I could."
He has been sober for two years now and has made his first steps back to fashion - in July 2011, he created Kate Moss´ wedding dress ("It saved me personally, because it was my creative rehab. She dared me to be me again"), and then in February this year he completed a short residency at Oscar de la Renta's design studio in New York. He remains positive about the future.
"It sounds a bit bizarre, but I am so grateful for what did happen," he said. "I have learned so much about myself. I have re-discovered that little boy who had the hunger to create, which I think I had lost. I am alive."