It was Asia, but not as we know it. Recently returned from a three-week trip to China and Japan, John Galliano staged a Christian Dior couture show that smashed cultural boundaries in a spectacle of gargantuan theatricality. Sweeping, multicolored volumes of fabric that mixed East and West, ancient and modern, were showcased amid appearances from Chinese dancers and circus performers, who flew along the runway in death-defying feats of athleticism.

In Galliano’s hands, the vivid colors and patterns of Chinese costume and Japanese kimonos got transformed into some of the hugest clothes ever invented. Models, almost completely submerged in cocooning swaths of brocade, taffeta and exploding chiffon flounces, teetered along on vertiginous platforms. Mixed up in the melee were pastel-colored marabou feathers—Galliano’s homage to England’s Queen Mother—18th-century hoopskirts and deliberately sleazy vinyl (just to add a contradictory jolt of modernity).

Galliano used the term hard-core romance to describe this new passion for volume and sensational celebration of color (running in every hue from sugared pastels to intense bolts of orange, turquoise and red). But we’ll have to wait for Dior’s ready-to-wear collection to see how the man plans to make it all wearable.