All you need to know about cruise collections

Words by Lauren Cochrane

29 June 2020


Anyone with half an eye on fashion knows that February and September are the so-called ‘fashion months’, when new collections are revealed across cities around the world. But, increasingly, May is on the calendar too. That’s thanks to the cruise shows - when a third annual collection is sent down select runways. 2019’s cruise shows have seen fashion editors travel to Marrakech (Dior), Paris (Chanel), New York (Prada, Louis Vuitton) and Rome (Gucci). While February and September mean a packed fashion schedule, cruise is the Champions League of fashion weeks. It’s a time when the mega-brands flex their muscles.

And they do. 2019’s series of cruise destinations sounds glamorous but previous years have seen fashion editors find themselves in a tree-lined museum in Kyoto (Louis Vuitton), Pierre Cardin’s ‘bubble house’ near Cannes (Dior) and a man-made island in Dubai (Chanel). These brands know that these shows need to be jaw-dropping. It’s estimated that cruise collections now account for up to 60% of a brand’s revenue. No wonder Chanel was willing to spend a reported $1.7m (£1.29m) on the Dubai show.

As the name suggests, cruise collections were originally released halfway through a season, for a jet-set clientele who might go on a cruise, or certainly travel throughout the year. Apparently, Coco Chanel herself started it 100 years ago when she noticed the travel habits of well-heeled customers. Designed for a winter sun customer, clothes were kind of chic but uncomplicated trans-seasonal adaptable pieces to reflect that.

Fast-forward to now and cruise collections work for a different cultural shift. This is about newness. Cruise, presented in May and instore in November, provide another mood or theme to keep the customer’s attention once she’s already explored the autumn collection. This is in line with fashion’s wider trends. Thanks to the influence of the ‘drop’ system in streetwear - where brands like Supreme release limited ranges every month or two - as well as the relentless pressure of social media, the desire for the new in fashion is growing.

So, what might you be lusting after from these collections? Chanel’s cruise this time featured the tropes of tweed, monochrome and florals - a sweet and sensitive tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, and Coco of course, by newly installed Creative Director Virginie Viard. Dior’s was an ambitious effort that collaborated with artists and designers of colour to continue designer Maria Grazia Chiuri’s mythical romanticism for a feminist generation (this wasn’t entirely successful - the collection provoked a debate online about whether it was cultural appropriation). Prada’s collection, by contrast, was all business - no-brainer nice clothes that could have walked off the catwalk and into the streets of New York. Come November, that’s no doubt where they’ll be.

For guidance on creating your own cruise collection this year, your lifestyle manager can put you in touch with our team of personal stylists and shopping experts who will make sure you’re all set with your cruise wardrobe.

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