PARIS — “Gemma was body-slamming the whole day,” is how John Galliano described the photo shoot for Christian Dior’s spring/summer campaign. Australian model Gemma Ward leapt backward repeatedly into a glossy, gray paper backdrop — cushioned with a mattress, mind you.

The ads, slated to break in March fashion magazines, represent the first for Dior by photographer Craig McDean after many years of collaboration with Nick Knight. Galliano said the campaign did not mark a major image shift, describing McDean as a photographer “from the school of Nick Knight, as many of them are.”

Galliano characterized the graphics — in which the word Dior is split across two pages — as the most striking new element, recalling a famous quote by Jean Cocteau that the Dior name was blessed as a luxury label because the word is a combination of “Dieu,” or God, and “or,” or gold.

Galliano said the images — sharply focused and three-dimensional, with handbags and shoes vivid in the foreground — have a luxurious feel and emphasize the details of this season’s ready-to-wear, which incorporates such Joan of Arc accents as metal chain inserts and fabric layers articulated into soft armor. “It’s where Dior should be today,” Galliano said.

Themed “zero gravity,” the ads feature hairstyles by Eugène Souleiman and makeup by Lucia Pieroni. The designer noted the shoot in a Paris studio went off without a hitch and Ward, despite the repeated physical jolts, did not complain once and seems to have emerged unscathed.

“I did get a Christmas card from her, so she’s all right,” Galliano said with a laugh.

This story first appeared in the January 30, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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