There's a 14th Century Masaccio painting that comes to mind when I think of John Galliano. It's a provocative work of art that depicts Adam and Eve, shamed and banned from the Garden of Eden, while an angel hovers above the two with a blazing sword. In essence, the painting evokes feelings of disgrace and depravity.
Two years ago, the name Galliano was associated with dreamy couture and flowy gowns comprised of chiffon and plumage. The talented, young designer held the torch for the future of haute couture and high-fashion, serving as an emblem of promise and hope in an industry hard-hit by financial and economic turbulence.
It was Galliano's services to French couture that led former President Nicolas Sarkozy to award the burgeoning young designer with France's highest honor- the Legion d'Honneur- in 2009.
Then in 2011, a video capturing a drunken Galliano engrossed in an outrageous, anti-Semitic outburst against a couple at a Parisian cafe surfaced. And before fashion circles could say, "Oh mon Dieu," Galliano was ousted from Dior's durable doors and forced to retreat from the public eye. He was later ordered to stand trial, potentially facing a heavy fine and up to six months in prison. Galliano was convicted guilty and ordered to pay suspended fines of €6,000. He has since checked into rehab.
The saga continues Monday with the Legion of Honor stripping Galliano of his award, one year after he was found guilty. Richard Prasquier, the president of France's leading Jewish group, told the Associated Press, "what he said made him unworthy of wearing this decoration."
And for the rest of us, invaluable lessons involving tolerance, acceptance and respect, arise from the ashes of France's fallen couturier.