NEW YORK CITY — Onetime Christian Dior designer John Galliano has stepped into the middle of another anti-Semitic furor, this time over his choice in fashion.
Galliano, who gained notoriety in 2011 shouting about his love for Hitler, appeared to again mock devout Jews when he stepped out Tuesday in an outfit replete with a long coat, homburg-style hat and what appear to be peyos — long sidelocks grown to demonstrate faith.
Galliano, who was on his way to the Fashion Week showcase for Oscar de la Renta — who's trying to revive the fashion pariah's career — triggered a wave of criticism that he was mocking the clothing of ultra-Orthodox Jews.
But the controversial designer found a surprising ally in the head of the Jewish advocacy group the Anti-Defamation League, which rushed to the designer's defense.
"There is no truth to their accusation that John Galliano was dressed in Hasidic garb, and anyone familiar with the dress of traditional Orthodox Jews should not mistake what Galliano is wearing in the photograph as 'Hasidic garb,'" Abraham Foxman, the ADL's national director, said in a statement. "Hasidim do not wear fedora hats, pinstripe pants, blue jackets or an ascot tie. This is just John Galliano being John Galliano. His dress is always eccentric and his hair is always worn long."
Foxman also blasted the New York Post, which ran a photo of Galliano on the front page of their Wednesday issue, and said "This is, at the very least, ignorance on the part of the reporters and editors," Foxman said.
"[Galliano] has spent hours with me and with others in the European Jewish community, including rabbis and Holocaust scholars, in an effort to better understand himself and to learn from his past mistakes," Foxman added. "He is trying very hard to atone."
A representative of Galliano also defended the designer Wednesday night, saying Galliano had no intention of mimicking Hasidic garb, according to reports.
"Mr. Galliano has worn big hats and has had long curly hair for many years," a Galliano representative told MailOnline. "He was in designer attire from head-to-toe including a Stephen Jones hat and Yohji Yamamoto pants."
The sartorial snafu caused a stir on social media.
"John Galliano, and anyone, and I mean ANYONE who supports this sick freak should go to Auschwitz," Bradley Scott Reisman said in a 9 a.m. Facebook post.
"John Galliano- why? The House that Oscar de la Renta built is giving you a chance- must you mock it?" read a 10 a.m. tweet from Michelle Jones.
Some defended Galliano like Steve Kolb, CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, who said attacks against the designer were "unfair."
"That is John's hair and how he dresses and certainly not a mockery of others," Kolb tweeted Wednesday morning before adding, "Lets all take a deep breath, relax and remember it's just clothes!"
Others disagreed. Mark Ferdman replied to Kolb tweeting, "Show me [a] few more pics of him dressed like that over the past couple months, years and I'll consider that POV."
Some felt that Galliano's wardrobe, whether intentionally offensive or not, was at the very least in keeping with his outrageous reputation.
"He's crazy. He's totally nuts," said South Williamsburg lawyer and Hasidic leader Marty Needleman. "The stuff about Hitler was really disgusting, but this is just crazy."
The French fashion house Christian Dior, where Galliano was a top designer, fired him in 2011 after a video surfaced of him professing his love for Adolf Hitler in a Parisian bar.
"I love Hitler," Galliano slurs in the video while clutching a cigarette. "People like you would be dead today. Your mothers and forefathers would be [...] gassed."
After the incident, the fashion community shunned him and a French court convicted him on racism charges and fined him 6,000 euros.
Fellow designer Oscar de la Renta recently offered Galliano a residency at his fashion house in a move many saw as an effort to revive the disgraced icon's career.
"I said and did things which hurt others, especially members of the Jewish community," Galliano said in a January statement, blaming his racist outbursts on alcoholism.
"I have expressed my sorrow privately and publicly for the pain which I caused, and I continue to do so. I remain committed to making amends to those I have hurt."