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PARIS — Without any bias toward bias cutting, there’s more to John Galliano than drop-dead evening gowns.

That’s a message Christian Dior wants to send this winter by making jackets — curvy and lightly padded — the major statement for its first spring deliveries in late November.

And the French fashion house is putting major star power behind the project. Riley Keough, a budding model who’s the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley and Elvis’ granddaughter, will star in a special jacket-focused campaign, lensed by Nick Knight and styled by Galliano. The spots are expected to break in December fashion magazines in what is described as a “significant” worldwide campaign.

“The objective is to push the day part of ready-to-wear,” said Dior president Sidney Toledano. “John is so famous for gowns, all the casual collections and the knitwear. We want to make a real statement with the jacket because the story of the house starts with tailoring.”

Toledano stressed that Galliano himself was behind the initiative — and to be sure, the designer has been featuring many jackets, sometimes in extreme proportions, in recent collections. It marks a shift for a designer known more for theatricality than nine-to-five dressing.

Toledano said the jacket effort illustrates how couture know-how translates into rtw, as Galliano applied many techniques to the fitting, detailing and finishing of the garments, which are reminiscent of some of the house’s most famous styles.

But they have a strong contemporary edge, from a tiny piercing on the top silver button of a Prince of Wales number to numerous denim styles, some with utility pockets, others with sequin-edged floral appliqués. Fabric options include leather, suede, camouflage print and the signature Dior logo denim.

Toledano declined to pinpoint the results of a summer wholesale effort, but characterized the jackets as “plus” business that helped propel a double-digit gain for the season.

Retail prices for the jackets range from 855 euros, or $1,042 at current exchange, for a jean jacket to 1,816 euros, or $2,213, for a Prince of Wales checked version, to 4,868 euros, or $5,934, for a style with sequins and embroidery.

This story first appeared in the September 10, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

— Miles Socha