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CEO Invokes Holocaust As Dior Shows Without Galliano
March 04th, 2011 @ 6:01 PM - Paris
The clothes were pretty much the last thing on anyone's mind when attending the Friday, March 4, show by Christian Dior, where the CEO in an unprecedented speech invoked the Holocaust when explaining the recent sacking for anti-Semitic comments of the house's designer John Galliano.
Dior CEO Sidney Toledano, in a three-minute pre-show address, also revealed that the sister of founder Christian Dior had herself been deported to Buchenwald concentration camp.
Some 1,200 guests had to hustle their way through a large crowd of onlookers amidst extremely heavy security to enter the show. Paramilitary police had closed off all the streets around the Rodin Museum, inside of which Dior had built custom-built runway tent.
"What has happened over the last week has been a terrible and wrenching ordeal for us. It has been deeply painful to see the Dior name associated with the disgraceful statements attributed to its designer, however brilliant he may be. Such statements are intolerable because of our collective duty to never forget the Holocaust and its victims," said Toledano, in a clearly heartfelt speech.
From the day he founded the design house in 1947 in the wake of World War II, Mr. Dior "sought to free women, to give them back their sparkle and joyfulness," said Toledano, who was heavily applauded before and after his speech.
Dior sacked Galliano on Tuesday after the emergence of a phone video taken in a Paris bar, where the obviously inebriated designer made pro-Nazi and anti-Jewish remarks.
"I love Hitler. People like you would be dead today. Your mothers and forefathers would be dead today," Galliano says in the video which has been viewed by millions on the Internet.
The collection, Galliano's last for the house, was relatively reined in by his standards, and inspired by English Romantic poet dandyism. Featuring teal and Bordeaux fur and knit mix dresses and a series of largely sheer mousseline or organza robes, the collection highlighted the great strength of Dior's legendary atelier.
Toledano himself underlined that tradition trumpeting the Dior staff that devotes their time to creating the ultimate in luxury and fashion.
"The heart of the House of Dior, which beats unseen, is made up of its teams and studios, of its seamstresses and craftsmen, who work hard day after day, never counting the hours, and carrying on the vision of Mr. Dior," said Toledano, stressing these "petits mains," or "little hands," of the atelier.
At the finale, the collection received modest applause, however this rose to a huge crescendo when some 30 white coated, petits mains appeared on the catwalk, many visibly in tears.
It was also clearly a brilliant display of crisis management, as the house of Dior rebounded dramatically from its worst week since it opened 54 years ago.