A French court handed the perfume maker his punishment for remarks made during an interview on national channel France-2 whilst describing the creation of one of Guerlain’s most successful fragrances.
Guerlain used the racial slur, whilst explaining how he had worked hard to create his famous Samsara perfume, and drew a number of legal complaints with protests taking place at company stores in Paris.
“This was an emblematic affair which caused shock and injury like few others,” said Patrick Klugman, a lawyer for SOS Racism, speaking at the court.
Abuse of national platform
“We mustn’t forget that this was an attack, the likes of which is rarely seen, where on a televised broadcast, to a mass audience, a man calmly says [the racial slur]… which comes from a specific moment – the time of slavery.”
During the trial, the 75 year old apologised to France's black community describing his remarks as "imbecilic" stating he is “from another generation,” and such expressions were "common" in the past.
The court ruled that Guerlain’s comments were “dated and disagreeable,” and that they suggested that an entire race of people were lazy, before issuing the fine, which was much less than the maximum permitted under law.
Commenting on the judgment after the hearing, Guerlain’s lawyer, Basile Ader said “I think it’s a harsh fine. I don’t know if he will accept the verdict or not, but it’s not impossible."
Company cut ties immediately
The Guerlain company distanced itself from his remarks at the time of broadcast, branding his words as "unacceptable" and noted he had not been a member of staff since 2002, after LVMH acquired the company.
It is the second time Guerlain owners, LVMH, has been embroiled in a race scandal due to a person connected with the company.
LVMH immediately cut ties with Jean-Paul Guerlain following the remarks, made in 2010, as it did similarly a year later, as designer John Galliano was sacked from the Dior brand for making antisemetic remarks in public.
At the time Sidney Toledano, Christian Dior Couture CEO, said: "We unequivocally condemn the statements which are in total contradiction to the longstanding core values of Christian Dior."