The Christian Dior label will emerge unscathed from the John Galliano racism row because of its swift decision to sack him, brand experts have claimed, but opinion is divided over what its next move should be.
The French couture house suspended Galliano, its head designer for a decade, last Friday after he was arrested for alleged anti-Semitic and racist remarks, and then fired him on Tuesday after a film emerged of him telling a woman: “People like you would be dead … your mothers, your forefathers, would all be f****** gassed.”
Rita Clifton, chairman of global branding consultancy Interbrand, said the Dior brand would remain the “hero” because its methodology was “bigger than any individual”.
“It did the right thing. You’ve got to get on with these things,” she said, but warned that Dior should not “panic” and appoint a replacement too fast.
However, Rafael Gilston, managing director at branding consultancy Geek, said: “The brand very quickly needs to find someone to take the helm and then it can wipe the slate clean.”
He added: “[Dior] will ride it out. It’s a damage limitation exercise, which it has already started. There will be a dip in sales without question [but] just a blip. The real women who buy [Dior] clothes are very wealthy women and their loyalty is to Dior and not to the creative director.”
Moira Benigson, managing partner at recruitment firm The MBS Group, likened Galliano’s departure from Dior to Tom Ford leaving Gucci or Lee Alexander McQueen’s death. Both the Gucci and Alexander McQueen brands have continued to thrive under new design heads.
She predicted Dior would fill Galliano’s role by promoting someone internal, or opting for “someone with a lower profile and not so much in the public eye to give the brand a chance to rest.”
As Drapers went to press Galliano issued an apology. However, he denied claims of anti-Semitic behaviour and confirmed he would sue those who made the allegations for defamation.