Victorian dolls and Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby: Those were the not-so-innocent fancies that caused John Galliano to get into cream puffs and frills for summer. His first model teetered out in a bustled-up romper confection with overblown transparent sleeves, white stockings and suspenders, and a two-foot pompadour. Her girlie cohorts followed, gussied up in itsy eyelet tutus, marabou-trimmed rosebud-print corsetry, fluttery panties, white knee socks, and all manner of coquettish bows, rosettes, and ribbons.

After the puff sleeves and baby dolls, Galliano sent out some of his more familiar nineteenth-century bordello denizens in fuchsia corsetry and long Moulin Rouge cutaway flounces. Backstage, the designer insisted that his bubbly summer follies are there simply to explore a new proportion. "It's something I had to do to get to the next phase," he explained, "like the cardboard cutout show I did a few seasons ago." Meanwhile, Galliano analysts know to search for those tantalizing signs of the delicacies he reserves for commercial release—like a fragile white lace blouse, or a lilac camisole suspended loosely from bow-trimmed ribbons. And as for the teensy colored purses, swinging from grosgrain straps? Immediately, deliciously consumable.