John Galliano cited "romantic, poetic seafarers of the Yemeni tribe" as the basis of his fall collection. Quite what they were doing tangled up with gigantic Cold Mountain crinolines and corsets exploding with ruffles we needn't question too closely; all this means is that we're off on another colorful trip into Galliano's psychedelic, ethnographic imagination.

The pileup of fun and spectacle started with the towering constructs on the girls' heads. Little bowlers teetered on top of arrangements that supported, variously, floral head scarves, huge coiled fake-hair plaits, fox tails, silver jewelery, and whole canteens of miniature pots and pans. All that mirrored what was going on in the clothes—an insane collision of piratical stripes, vivid gypsy florals, Galliano's signature newsprint chiffons, and knitted patchworks, accessorized with dangling Coke cans and empty plastic mineral-water bottles.

Galliano¿s shows make a mockery of solemn fashion reporting. He knows, and we know, that no one would ever wear a 12-foot-wide crinoline over a baggy pair of printed drawers with, perhaps, a pair of plastic carrier bags on the feet. He's not even suggesting it. Perhaps what he's saying with this crazy scavenger look is that most canny shoppers simply pick over current fashion to appropriate what they want to add to a lifetime's collection of personal treasures. He is not one to laboriously dictate what goes with what.

At any rate, this time, the visual mayhem didn't conceal the garments that will translate directly from runway to hanger. Tiny, form-fitting jackets were the news, some in rose-embroidered chamois leather, others cut as bugle-boy military spencers or as eighteenth-century corsets in shearling. Great knits were also nonchalantly thrown in—a cream cardigan with fluffy pom-poms here, a raspberry-striped long-sleeve polo shirt there. All that seemed missing from Galliano¿s regular menu were his fragile evening dresses, one of the foundations on which he has built his name.

One thing is certain: For all the provocation Galliano likes his presentations to stir up, the real surprise is how scrumptiously pretty it ends up looking in the store.