Troubled fashion designer John Galliano told a Paris court that addictions to drink and drugs were to blame for his alleged anti-semitic outbursts.
He said he has "no recollection whatsoever" of the things he said to 35-year-old Geraldine Block, whom he insulted in a Paris café in February.
He admitted to drinking champagne before the incident and taking valium pills.
The 50-year-old designer - who wore a black three-piece suit, brogues and a navy blue and white polka-dot tie - told the court he was "a recovering alcoholic, a recovering addict".
He said he began using alcohol and drugs in 2007 following the death of a close friend – his "beloved right-hand man" Steven Robinson, who died of a heart attack aged 38.
The use of substances had helped him cope with the intense pressure of his job as creative director of Dior, he said.
He told how he had been in "complete denial" about his addictions when he was arrested, which is why he did not tell police about them at the time.
Mr Galliano is accused of two counts of "public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity". The incidents took place last October and February.
If convicted, he could face up to six months in prison and £22,500 in fines. A verdict on the case is due in September.
A video of a third incident – in which he made what are alleged to be anti-Semitic comments to two Italian women – was used as evidence in the Paris Correctional Court.
After the clip was played, the designer said: "they're not views I hold or believe in. in the video I see someone who needs help.
"All my life I have fought against prejudice and discrimination, having been subjected to it myself.
"These are not the sentiments of John Galliano."