This season, there's been obsessive talk about the possibilities of making fashion events public via revolutionary digital technologies, so it takes an extra-special mustering of talent to remind everyone how unique an experience a great show can be in real time, witnessed on the spot. For Spring, John Galliano did just that, conjuring up a magical scenario on a laser-lit runway, upon which floating bubbles descended and then—poof!—evaporated into vapor. It created a dreamy parallel world for one of his best collections in a long time: a show poignantly evoking the era when the heroines of silent movies were facing their career demise.

"It came from a research trip to L.A.," Galliano said. "I went around the old houses of Hollywood and imagined how stars like Tallulah Bankhead, Lillian Gish, and Mary Pickford lived." It gave him an ideal justification for playing to his strengths in poetically glamorous chiffon; bias-cut little nothings; fragile, delightful plissé puff-shouldered blouses and bed jackets; and coats symbolically decorated with clusters of flowers made out of film gel. Galliano's color sense—the ice blues, silver lamés, powder pinks, and lemons—was exquisite; it was his fashion version of Sunset Boulevard.

This, of course, is the romantic territory Galliano has owned for years, but somehow, seen in this laser-created futuristic light, its imagery jumped to a new relevance. Triumphantly desirable as the clothes were, their meaning seemed doubly poignant—mirroring a moment when a new technology was putting an old world out of business.