VIDEO - Iconic British designer John Galliano, sacked by Dior in 2011 for making drunken racist tirades, says he is "grateful" for his fall from grace because it forced him to confront his drug and alcohol demons.
In what was billed as the designer's first sober interview since the career-shattering scandal that saw him ousted from the French fashion powerhouse, Galliano told Vanity Fair he had been in denial about his substance abuse for years.
"It sounds a bit bizarre, but I am so grateful for what did happen," Galliano told the magazine in an interview published Tuesday on its website.
"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."
The 52-year-old was hit with suspended fines totaling €6,000 ($8,400) after being found guilty of making anti-Semitic insults in public – an offense under French law – following separate incidents in 2010 and 2011.
Galliano underwent treatment at an Arizona rehabilitation center in the wake of the scandal, which broke after the emergence of a video capturing his anti-Jewish rant towards fellow patrons in a Parisian bar.
"When I saw it, I threw up," Galliano said of the damning video evidence. "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 paralyzed from the fear."
'I just said the most spiteful thing I could'
Galliano told Vanity Fair he remained baffled by the nature of his remarks, insisting he "didn't mean" what he said.
"It's the worst thing I have said in my life, but I didn't mean it ... I have been trying to find out why that anger was directed at this race," he said.
"I now realize I was so ... angry and so discontent with myself that I just said the most spiteful thing I could."
Galliano meanwhile painted a picture of a life that had spiraled out of control shortly before the scandal, believing he would have ended up "in a mental asylum or six feet under" if he hadn't changed his lifestyle.
"I never drank in order to be creative, or to do the research," he said. "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, who spent nearly 15 years at Dior, is widely considered to be one of the most brilliant fashion minds of his generation.
However, his rehabilitation following the racism scandal has been difficult. Last month, New York's Parsons School of Design canceled a workshop he had been set to give at the prestigious fashion college.