The designer, who has found new backing in France after months of uncertainty, launched a smash and grab raid on history.
He mixed a host of historical and cultural references into the new collection: Regency stripes, 17th century corsetry, Forties chiffon prints, Shanghai Lil dresses, and pirate accessories that recalled his debut collection.
The effect was flamboyant and sensual. Tight Napoleonic frock coats came with collars like scrolls and giant turned-back cuffs. Bias-cut chiffon dresses slithered over the body.
The show on Wednesday night drew prolonged applause from an audience (including the fashion designer Azzedine Alaia) that had endured a two-hour delay. The designer has been criticised for producing unwearable clothes. But Mr Galliano said he had been encouraged by Faycal Amor, his new backer, to realise his dreams. 'This is meant to be like a scent, to be an inspiration.'
Lucinda Chambers, fashion director of Vogue, said: 'It was a shot in the arm for fashion. We need Galliano's energy and sense of fantasy.'
Joseph Ettedgui, the retailer and designer, said the collection was 'a lesson for anyone who is a designer. John is a genius at making clothes that reach beyond the everyday.'
The designer expects to make sales from Galliano's Girl, a lower priced collection with more 'wearable' clothes.