For many years, February and September have held the most anticipated bi-annual events on the fashion calendar – Fashion Week. The occasions give hundreds of esteemed designers a platform to showcase two collections a year, spring/summer and autumn/winter, in fashion capitals, New York, London, Paris or Milan. But recent trends show a growing focus on a month in between, May, when a subset of megabrands push the boat out even more to present their inter-seasonal resort wear line, also known as a cruise collection.
Resort wear is designed with elite holidaymakers in mind, luxuriating on a cruise somewhere sunny. And the shows are becoming increasingly extravagant. Fashion powerhouses like Chanel, Dior and Vuitton contend for the most engaging and unique audience experience. The location from which their productions are staged carry huge importance and are considered as crucial as celebrity presence and the garments themselves to command the attention of the press and generate social media buzz.
Dior’s cruise show was held in Santa Monica in the desert mountains on the outskirts of LA. The wild west theme worked seamlessly with imagery inspired by the brand’s 1951 Lascaux collection based on ancient paintings in the Lascaux cave walls in south-west France. The etchings are almost 20,000 years old. The 2018 cruise collection incorporated oxen and horse illustrations printed on silk, as well as patchwork dresses, knits, tassels and fringe, which created a modern-day, high-fashion Pocahontas-goes-to-Coachella feel. Rihanna, Frieda Pinto, and Charlize Theron were just some of many high-profile guests to attend, all expenses paid.
By contrast, the Louis Vuitton presentation felt less mainstream, much edgier and futuristic. Led by Nicholas Ghesquière, the show was a combination of nature, fashion and architecture. The catwalk lay on a suspension bridge surrounded by forest lands at Japan’s Miho Museum. The bridge designer, I.M. Pei, is also the creative genius behind the glass pyramids at the Louvre. True to the location, LV’s cruise collection drew references to Japanese culture and history. There were Hokusai-inspired landscape prints, Kabuki mask motifs, gold evening dresses in tribute to the Noh Theatre, and belts and armoury reminiscent of martial arts and Samurais. Ghesquière, a self-proclaimed lover of the country’s mystique, honoured native, Kansai Yamamoto, a fashion pioneer who paved the way for generations of Japanese designers to bring their collections to France.
Interestingly, France was the chosen location for Chanel’s Grecian-themed 2018 cruise collection. The set was constructed to mimic the Temple of Poseidon and Parthenon in Athens. Pillars and columns were cracked or broken to replicate the look of crumbling ruins. The clothing complemented the backdrop as a contemporary portrayal of Hellenic mythology. The white toga-style dresses are a natural fit for summer, accented with gold belts, laurel leaf and braided hairbands, and bejewelled arm cuffs. The strappy, heeled, gladiator sandals also add to the depiction of a Grecian goddess ready for resort wear war.