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PARIS — A self-described “hopeless romantic,” John Galliano has finally said “I do” to a bridal collection at Christian Dior. Consisting of about 14 styles, it bows at Dior boutiques in December.

This story first appeared in the October 2, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In an exclusive interview, Galliano described the genesis of the collection and confessed his personal affinity for weddings.

“I’ve always taken enormous pleasure from my girlfriends’ requests to do their wedding dresses,” he said, mentioning such pals as Ellen Barkin, Cindy Crawford, Eva Herzigova and, most recently, Gwen Stefani. “I find marriage…an incredibly uplifting and positive affair and it’s always an amazing moment to be a part of. It’s been a new creative challenge to offer [women] the ideal gown for the biggest day of their life.”

But it has not been possible for average women to make Dior part of their nuptials. In the past, Dior’s couture ateliers have produced gowns for a long list of the rich and famous, such as the Empresses of Iran Soraya and Farah Diba, Queen Noor of Jordan, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Olivia de Havilland and Maria Shriver. A couture bridal gown can easily run into six figures. By contrast, ready-to-wear bridal dresses will retail from $2,000 to $14,800, with items starting at about $500.

“This is the first time that Dior has produced a ready-to-wear bridal range,” Galliano said. “My own sentiment and our market studies led us to believe that this is the right moment to launch this new bridal line.”

And how. Christian Dior is currently one of the hottest fashion and accessory brands on the market, with sales in the first half of the year rocketing 44 percent to $218.4 million. Extending the brand into such areas as bridal and jeans are additional ways of tapping into demand for the brand.

Since Galliano arrived as Dior’s couturier five years ago, the house has received many orders for couture creations in wedding versions. The new bridal rtw line represents a reworking of best-selling styles from Dior’s couture and rtw collections.

Given that women are marrying later, the teenage dream of “resembling Scarlet O’Hara” has been usurped by a confident woman’s desire to “blend tradition and modernity,” Galliano said.

“The gown must be about the woman wearing it and should serve to enhance her qualities,” he said. “It must allow her to feel the most beautiful she has ever felt, yet be totally at ease with herself.”

She can even be a raunchy sort of gal. The collection includes an off-the-shoulder gown lashed with corset-style lacing up the side — all in white leather. “She could be a hip-hop Cinderella,” Galliano quipped.

But the collection spans many moods. Galliano describes some dresses as having a “wispy, vintage feel,” while others are “more sophisticated,” such as the two-piece model with a ruched jacket and a long, bias skirt. The designer described the silhouettes as “soft and easy” to highlight the figure, and he executed them in mostly lightweight silks, satins, taffetas and lace. Details include pin-tucking, embroideries and draping.

The line also includes all bridal accoutrements, including shoes, handbags, veils and stoles — almost everything except the wedding cake and the groom.

“Now the girls can have the ideal dresses,” Galliano said. “They just have to find the ideal husband.”

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