John Galliano marked the unofficial kickoff to a season that retailers and even editors have all but officially accepted as full-fledged. (Can't you just sense the ticking clock strapped to its haphazard, spread-out schedule?) He did so for the third year running with the full pomp and celebrity we've come to expect chez Dior. Like iron shavings drawn to a magnet, a fleet of town cars bounced along underneath the 59th Street Bridge and disgorged their precious cargo—Jennifer Lopez (with an adoring Marc Anthony), Christina Aguilera, Lauren Hutton, Charlize Theron—outside the soaring, vaulted space of Guastavino's restaurant.

Lately, Galliano has been mining the good old U.S. of A. for raw material from which to spin his dreams. For a season as commercially skewed as resort, Yankee practicality seems an apt starting point. Which isn't to say that the designer has been studying Hillary Clinton's pantsuits. More up his avenue are grandes dames like Barbara Hutton, Millicent Rogers, and Nan Kempner—women who weren't afraid to make a bold sartorial statement, one that preferably involved a whopping piece of jewelry. From a shimmering backdrop that conjured a Tony Duquette garden, there emerged a full wardrobe for their modern-day counterparts in Palm Beach, Beverly Hills, and Dallas. Rendered in a bouncy, optimistic palette of corals, fuchsias, and limes, nearly every look was heavy on the beaded embroidery (down to the swimwear and shoes) and topped off with outsized sombreros and bijoux.

With its sixties-era strains of printed tunics, capri pants, trapeze silhouettes, little peplum jackets, and haute bohemian caftans and peasant blouses, the collection hewed closely to the line Galliano sent out last season. Both are light-years from the spartan look of his first resort show. A little retail love is likely the guiding force for that continuing direction. (At least one high-living social was heard singing the new collection's praises on her way out.) What this season is really about is not so much breaking the mold as delivering a vision of the good life—and Galliano can do that in spades.