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PARIS — Even without her famous smile, Julia Roberts is unmistakable in her surprising turn modeling for Givenchy.

Riccardo Tisci cast the actress to appear in a spring campaign that telegraphs the more classic side of the French fashion house. He dressed Roberts in signature Givenchy styles including a boxy jacket, lace shirt and a tuxedo dress.

This story first appeared in the December 9, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“The mood of the show was about this very powerful woman, and Julia represents this very much,” Tisci told WWD. “She represents the couture part. It’s important to show your iconic work. I want to build what is the real classic wardrobe.”

The Italian designer, who next year will mark a decade at the creative helm of Givenchy, has been dressing Roberts on the red carpet for the past year and a half — in a lace couture gown for the 2014 Oscars and in a tuxedo jacket, white shirt and black skirt for the “Osage County” premiere, for example.

For the campaign, Tisci opted to showcase Roberts in more “boyish” guise, with minimal hair and makeup to exalt her striking features.

“I decided to make her more intellectual, more serious, more pure,” he said. “It’s a different, fresh, new way to see Julia — really cool and urban, I think.”

Givenchy regulars Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott photographed the campaign, with Katy England as stylist, Serge Normant on hair and Genevieve Herr doing makeup.

The Roberts photos are to be juxtaposed with other images from a location shoot involving a range of younger models, the diptychs showing the range of Tisci’s collections — from runway edge to the staple styles he revisits and refines each season.

“I like reality in campaigns. Today I think it’s very modern to be real,” Tisci said. “I don’t want to show only the clothes of the show, but also what you really sell…. I think it’s a very honest campaign.”

Casting one of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars in a Givenchy campaign represents a dream come true for Tisci, who grew up in thrall of all things American, including the “Pretty Woman” star.

“She’s incredible as a woman,” he said. “I love her so much: She’s funny, ironic, intelligent, cultured — everything.”

Tisci lauded Roberts as a versatile, accomplished and serious actress, who keeps a relatively low profile in spite of her popularity.

“She’s not really out there: red carpet, parties, Facebook and Instagram,” Tisci noted. “She really represents my woman. She’s got a really strong sense of fun and is very open.”

The campaign is slated to break in the March issues of international editions of Vogue, along with a range of edgier magazines — Purple, V, Interview, CR Fashion Book, System, Love, Flair, Common & Sense, Tvtor, I Look, Milk X — and fashion titles including Grazia, Elle, Madame Figaro, Marie Claire and GQ.

The spring campaign comes at a time of strong development for the house, with Tisci mentioning forthcoming store openings in Miami, Las Vegas and New York and a return to couture presentations “soon.”

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