Everyone is talking about Chanel but what exactly is a cruise collection?

Behind the Name

A cruise collection (collection croisière in French), also known as “resort collection” or “resort wear”, is an inter-season line of ready-to-wear clothing produced by fashion maisons in addition to the classic bi-seasonal collections. Same to the Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter collections, cruise collections are also traditionally presented under the form of fashion shows in cities such as New York, London, Paris or Milan. 

The cruise collection was originally designed for wealthy cruise guests vacationing around the Mediterannean sea during winter time. With the rise of cruise trips during the early 20th century comes the need for collections adapted to the environment and warm weather. High fashions houses like Gucci, Chanel Dior, etc thus brought cruise collections to life. Collections were designed for daytime and nighttime at the cruise. 

For daytime, women changed into everyday elegant dresses and men into vested suited: this is what we call “resort wear”.

A woman on a cruise ship in 1935 (source: flickr)

For nighttime and fancy dinners with the captain, men would wear tuxedos with ties; women would dress extravagantly, wearing gowns, diamonds, pearls, and fur. Try to picture the iconic gowns and diamonds worn by Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. 

Marilyn and Jane wearing gowns during the filming of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, 1953 (source: vintag.es)

Today, cruise collections have been more democratized and popularized to different social classes, but the rich heritage of cruise and resort wear is ever-present: high-end houses such as John Galliano, Anna Sui and Chanel are constantly showcasing their fresh take on the theme. 

Cruising through a pandemic

With lockdowns being imposed on major cities around the globe, many European luxury houses felt the need to postpone or cancel their usual cruise resort shows in 2020. This was a major decision, because resort wear typically has a longer shelf life (October-June) compared to other collections, which also means that these collections have traditionally been very lucrative for designer brands. 

Although resort hotels might be at their quietest, resort wear however, has thrived and proven us to be the ideal bridge between high fashion and mainstream wear. Thanks to its legacy, resort collections tend to be much more functional and comfortable to wear compared to couture or even ready-to-wear collections. This solves the massive consumer pain of having to choose between fashion and functionality. You may now have both! 

Chanel Resort 2022 (source: Vogue)

With the pandemic pushing people to stay at home, apart from adding colorful touches to our wardrobes, resort collections will be an opportunity for brands to test innovative and unique collections. 

“Last month, a designer on our team made the most amazing cashmere sweater for fall 2021,” Amy Smilovic, the creative director at Tibi told Glossy during an interview in November 2020. “Everyone in the office loved it and wanted us to make it immediately. At first, I was like, ‘No, this is for fall.’ But then I thought, why not make it now? So we made 50 of them in two weeks. And once those sell, we can make 50 more. That [freedom] is such a huge new thing [for us], but I love it. The only way I imagine Tibi changing from that is if I get hit by a car and someone else takes over the company and changes it.” 

Tibi Resort 2021 (source: Vogue)

While in the waiting for a post pandemic world, transcending creativity, culture and fashion, the fun and modern silhouettes of cruise collections will allow us to temporarily escape from the mundane, transporting us to distant yet fantastic locations, eras, or universes. 

Co- written by Aurelia Becquart and Alice Bonnet

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