British designer John Galliano
British designer John Galliano appears at the end of his Spring/Summer 2011 women's collection during Paris Fashion Week, October 1, 2010. Photo by Reuters
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Disgraced fashion designer John Galliano, who was fired from his job at French fashion house Christian Dior after making anti-Semitic rants, says he is not a racist and has spent the past few years trying to atone for his words and actions.

In what is described as his first interview since the events in 2011, he told Vanity Fair magazine about his drinking and drug use leading up to his angry encounter with customers in a cafe in Paris.

"It's the worst thing I have said in my life, but I didn't mean it," Galliano said. "I have been trying to find out why that anger was directed at this race."

Despite his conviction for his remarks and being shunned by many in the fashion world, Galliano, 52, said although it may sound bizarre he is grateful for what happened.

"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," he said.

Galliano had been one of the most celebrated fashion designers of his generation, creating well-received collections for Dior until his ouster.

A French court convicted him of making "public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity" during two episodes in a Parisian cafe and gave him a suspended fine of 6,000 euros ($8,000), which he will have to pay only if he is convicted of a similar offence.

In a third incident, which was videotaped and made public, Galliano is shown taunting people in a cafe.

"When everyone came over to tell me I had done these terrible things, I was walking round and round and round not really knowing what had gone down," he explained.

Galliano said he slipped into drinking over time and would use alcohol to crash after completing his collections. But he never admitted he was an alcoholic because he thought he could control it.

Following his conviction, he was treated in a rehabilitation facility in Arizona and has been sober for more than two years.

Since his recovery Galliano designed the 1920's style gown for the 2011 wedding of British model Kate Moss. He also worked with New York-based fashion designer Oscar de la Renta for several weeks earlier this year.

Galliano was due to teach a master class at Parsons The New School for Design his year but the class the canceled.

For the past two years, he said he has been trying to make amends and to possibly return to work.

The latest issue of Vanity Fair will be available on newsstands on Thursday.