Bill Gaytten was well within his comfort zone at John Galliano this season: historicism, romanticism, and a healthy swag of sheer bias-cut chiffon. His muse for the collection—an "aristocratic heiress" at large on her estate—meant there were hints of riding jackets and capes, but Gaytten also introduced the proto-Art Nouveau style of nineteenth-century illustrator Aubrey Beardsley into the mix.

It's surprising that this was a first for the house, given that the decadently erotic languor of Beardsley's drawings is such a perfect match for the Galliano look. The dramatic final look in the show—a flowing chiffon cape over little black underpinnings—could have been lifted straight from the pages of The Yellow Book, the literary journal that Beardsley co-founded and illustrated. So, for that matter, could the first look, with its ruffle neck and linear graphic-ism.

In between, Gaytten gave his own spin to the traditional Galliano codes. What this meant in practice was a certain safeness. It may seem odd to say that in the context of clothes so extreme in their proportion and coloration, but the Galliano bar is set high. So the undoubted commercial spirit at work in windowpane-checked dresses, or blurry blanket-stripe coat-dresses (even if they were micro) felt like the kind of compromise this business needs to grow. Likewise, the pieces that had a distinct forties influence. They formed part of a relatively sober continuum that pointed toward the new realities for Galliano, minus its wellspring.