John Galliano proved last night that modern couture is alive and kicking with an adrenaline hit of sheer energy inspired by almost every aspect of Russian art and culture: circus, ballet, theater, art, literature and costume.

Galliano scrambled these elements together to forge a new and uncompromising vision. A khaki blouson was embroidered with Mongolian rosettes and worn with a box-bleated minitoga. A square-shouldered warrior coat in striped ticking, worn with a circular skirt, featured knife-pleated floral insets. A long, peplum-waisted military jacket was smothered in golden bows and paillettes, and worn over a slightly bustled long brocade skirt.

Set to the booming drum beats of near-naked Japanese Kodo musicians sampling '80s hits by Bow Wow Wow and Adam Ant, the Dior show had the allure of a magical circus parade. A floor-length paneled coat incorporated denim, gold brocade, Mongolian lamb and matelassé silk, capped with gold fringe epaulettes. Dancers pliéd out in tutus made from denim taffeta and fur, or curlicue rattan ribbons. The contortionists wore black sequined shorts. And everyone looked thoroughly, defiantly, alive.