Who else could open a supposed treatise on Symbolist painters (quick, log onto Wikipedia!) with a blast of Led Zeppelin, gigantic overblown shapes, eye-watering color, and a whole lotta bling? Why, only John Galliano in his haute couture mode, of course. He blew vast volumes of air into multiple meters of duchesse satin, and whorled floriform shapes and swing-back swags into every passing silhouette. For garnish, there were great plastic flowers, chunks of sparkle, and frissons of dangly paillettes as embroidery. Topping it all off: towering laquered updos—"inspired by Vreeland's Vogue," he said—with myriad lamp-shade and saucer hats made to hover over them by the gravity-defying hand of Stephen Jones.

Somehow, Galliano's primrose path of inspiration had, he said, wended its way from John Singer Sargent's Madame X  through to the gilded swirls and bejeweled geometrics of Gustav Klimt. All that richness—plus the vibrant reds, magentas, yellows, purples, and limes—meant the collection teetered (atop vertiginous à la Japonaise platforms) on the brink of overload. Still, strange as it may seem, this was not one of Galliano's more manic excursions into fantasy costume. In the end, something in the odd air of high-society sixties hauteur came over as surprisingly chic.